Peter Tonagh-fronted consortium makes bid for AAP

Former News Corp and Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh has been named as the leader of a consortium which is seeking to save newswire service AAP from closure, making a bid with a view to close a deal by the time the platform is due to close next month.

While it’s understood the deal is the only viable one on the table it has not yet been accepted by AAP’s shareholders Nine, News Corp and Seven West Media.

Peter Tonagh is at the front of a bid to save the AAP

The consortium of philanthropists, media executives and investors is seeking to save the 85-year-old newswire service and the jobs of the 500 or so journalists who work for it ahead of its closure next month. Tonagh told The Australian the business would need to be a marriage of commercial and philanthropic ventures if it is expected to survive in the longterm.

Samuel Terry Asset Management managing director Fred Woollard and Australian Impact Investments managing director Kylie Charlton have also been named as part of the consortium, alongside approximately ten other parties.

But Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) boss Rod Sims has warned News Corp and Nine won’t be forced into a deal which doesn’t make commercial sense for them. He told The Guardian the watchdog is not supporting any specific bidder, but would be ‘concerned’ if the two media giants moved to block a sale.

“If there is a bidder we’ll be watching to ensure there were no inappropriate impediments to sale,” Sims told The Guardian.

“AAP’s continuation is really important for media diversity and also competition. It’s clear to me that media startups and smaller media that want to get bigger, they do depend on AAP.

“If we want the main players to be constantly challenged, then having AAP around is a good thing.”

News Corp has already announced plans to launch an internal newswire service.

“The investors in our consortium know it’s a tough time to invest in the Australian media, but they also know that if AAP is unable to provide a daily stream of high quality news, then dozens more independent news outlets are likely to fail,” said Tonagh in a statement.

“The more money we can raise from philanthropists, impact investors and from government, the more jobs we can save and the more diverse the Australian media will be.”

AAP chairman and News Corp Australia executive, Campbell Reid, said the offer was being considered, but would not go into detail.

“We are treating the conversations as confidential but our primary concern remains for the AAP staff,” he said on Sunday.


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