Nine sells Stuff to CEO Sinead Boucher in management buyout

Nine has finally found a solution for its New Zealand-based publisher Stuff Limited, with a management buyout expected to be completed by May 31, 2020.

The transaction will see the platform return to New Zealand ownership, something that was considered important for its future. CEO Sinead Boucher will take over the business.

Sinead Boucher has acquired Stuff in a management buyout

The direct profits from the sale will be NZ$1, but Nine will retain the Wellington print plant to lease back to Stuff. Nine is also set to receive 25% of the revenue from the sale of internet provider Stuff Fibre and a further 75% over the next 36 months. Until then, the funds will be used to help Stuff operate as it moves into its new ownership structure.

Nine expects an associated $40-50m specific item cost in its FY20 results.

Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks said he believes this is the best outcome for everyone involved.

“We have always said that we believe it is important for Stuff to have local ownership and it is our firm view that this is the best outcome for competition and consumers in New Zealand,” said Marks.

Boucher said the transaction gives Stuff, as a wholly New Zealand owned media business, far greater certainty in an industry navigating through the challenging waters of the post COVID-19 ad market.

“Today is an important moment for Stuff as a business. It is great to take control of our own future with the move to local ownership and the opportunity to build further on the trust of New Zealanders, who turn to us for local and national news and entertainment every day,” said Boucher.

“We are looking forward to working closely with staff, customers and our audiences as we embark upon what we believe will be a great new era for the business and the independent journalism it is built on.”

Nine acquired Stuff in 2018 after the merger with Fairfax. The management buyout follows a number of attempts to sell Stuff previously, including a merger with NZME which was blocked. Earlier this month, NZME announced it was going to attempt to purchase the publisher for $1, which was vehemently rejected by Stuff.

Stuff Limited owns New Zealand’s largest news website and nine daily papers including The Dominion Post and The Press. The business also owns New Zealand social media network Neighbourly.


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