US private equity firm TPG has upped its bid for Fairfax Media, now offering to buy the company outright for $2.75 billion.
TPG’s original offer was $2.2 billion and only included the business’ juiciest cuts including its mastheads and Domain real estate site. Struggling parts of the business – Stan, its Macquarie Radio assets and New Zealand operations – weren’t included in the original offer.
However, it’s yet to be seen if the board and shareholders will agree to the new deal that prices Fairfax shares at at $1.20 a share.
It has been reported that shareholders believe the company, with all its assets, is valued at $3.1 billion. Shareholders also do not want the company split in two, as it believes the assets not picked up by TPG would flounder.
Yesterday, Jack Cowin, the billionaire founder of Hungry Jack’s in Australia and Fairfax board member, said Fairfax would be sold at the “right price”, adding he thought TPG’s new $2.75 billion was still well short of the mark.
“The other offer was structurally non-aligned with reality with what could and couldn’t be done. So now it’s about focusing on the right price,” Mr Cowin told The Australian. “The offer is under consideration and now it’s time for the board to look it through.”
Meanwhile, CCZ Equities founder and long time media watcher Roger Colman told ABC.net.au that Fairfax shareholders will probably accept TPG’s offer due to the fact that the business is deteriorating and this may be as good an offer as the company gets.
“I think this will get it over the line for the simple reason that the deterioration of Fairfax’s operational performance is a greater concern to shareholders,” Colman said.
Like most private equity firms, Colman believed TPG would “rejuvenate” the business by culling its least profitable parts and fattening the profitable bits – namely Domain – and selling them off individually.
“[TPG] is not a half-yearly profit reporting business,” Colman said. “This is something that’s going to be put away for a few years, redeveloped, rejuvenated and it duplicates a sort of attitude that Rupert Murdoch adopts to grinding away the opposition.”