Paul Ramsay sells stake in Seven affiliate Prime Media

Prime7Businessman Paul Ramsay has sold his stake in Seven’s regional affiliate Prime Media in a move which will intensify debate around the anticipated wave of media consolidation.

The news came in an announcement to the ASX in which Ramsay paid tribute to Seven owner Kerry Stokes and signalled that he would remain chairman of Prime Media for now.

Ramsay said that he made the move now because he wanted to concentrate on other business and philanthropic interests and that the group had a secure future after recently signing a new affiliation agreeement which sees the group’s regional TV stations carry Seven content.

The major media owners have been lobbying the Abbott government for changes to the laws on media ownership which would put regional TV owners in play as potential acquisition targets by the major networks. Ramsay’s announcement came days after Seven boss Tim Worner reportedly said that acquiring Prime was not a priority.

Currently the reach rules prevent any one owner from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population, which has led to tie-ups between major metropolitan and regional stations.

Nine Entertainment Co has already purchased two stations in Adelaide and Perth from its regional affiliate WIN, while an easing of the media ownership laws could also see Nine buy Southern Cross Austereo, although Ten which has a content deal in place with the regional affiliate may also look t acquire its television stations.

The ASX announcement:



The Chairman of Prime Media Group, Mr Paul Ramsay AO has, this afternoon, informed the company that he has disposed of his entire interest in Prime Media, representing approximately 30% of issued capital.

Entities associated with Mr Ramsay have entered into an underwriting agreement with an investment bank in respect of the sale of shares at $0.87 per share.

Mr Ramsay said that he sold his shares to concentrate on his interests in Ramsay Health Care, other private interests and his philanthropic ambitions.

Mr Ramsay said “I have been privileged to have played a part in the success of Prime Media as the market leading provider of free to air television in regional areas of NSW, Canberra, Victoria, the Gold Coast and Western Australia.

The decision to sell my shareholding comes with mixed emotions. However, I feel that with the certainty of the new affiliation agreement with Seven Network and the operational improvements in place, the company is well positioned for the future. I would like to thank the Prime Board, Ian Audsley and the entire Prime Media team who have done a stellar job.

I would also like to thank my good friend, Mr Kerry Stokes AO for his personal support and for the success that we have enjoyed with Seven Network as our affiliate partner.”

Prime Media Group Chief Executive Ian Audsley said, “In Prime, Paul has built a tremendously successful media company and played a significant part in the development and growth of regional television in Australia. It is a sad day for all of us at Prime. The staff and I wish him every success for the future and thank him for his tremendous generosity toward the company and its people”.

It is likely that Mr Ramsay will in due course step down from his position as Chairman of Prime Media, however, Deputy Chairman Michel Siddle and Peter Evans will continue on the Board for the time being. The Board will undertake a renewal process and further announcements will be made in due course.


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