Fairfax Still Eyeing Domain Spin-off After Moving On From Private Equity Bidders

Fairfax Still Eyeing Domain Spin-off After Moving On From Private Equity Bidders

Fairfax Media is set to push ahead with its plan to list real estate business Domain separately on the ASX, following TPG Capital’s decision to abandon the bidding war, and Hellman & Friedman’s failure to place a bid in time.

TPG revealed its decision to walk away from bidding for Fairfax on Sunday after looking at the publisher’s books, while rival bidder Hellman & Friedman (H&F) failed to lodge a formal bid for the publisher before the Friday deadline, but indicated in a letter it was still interested in making one, according to The Australian Financial Review.

The last offer that TPG put on the table for Fairfax before abandoning was $2.75 billion, while H&F’s was up to $2.86 billion.

However, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood said on Sunday that the company has ceased the bidding process with private equity firms and will formally announce today that its focus now will be to spin off Domain by the end of 2017 as planned.

“Now this distraction is over, it is back to business as usual,” Hywood told The AFR.

“As you know, the bids from the two private equity players were unsolicited.

“But once we received the above market indicative bids, we acted in the best interests of our shareholders and ran a process. It is common in these situations for indicative bids not to translate to binding bids.”

The Australian reporter John Durie noted in a column that Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon faces an uphill battle in trying to talk up the company’s assets following the exit of TPG.

“No matter how it’s spun, the Domain deal will now look like damaged goods,” Durie wrote.

“Falloon will no doubt try to talk down private equity as the owner of the assets, but that is both incorrect and a sideshow.”

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