Bauer confirms acquisition rumours, takes a few mags off APN NZ's hands

  • Media
  • November 1, 2013
  • Ben Fahy
Bauer confirms acquisition rumours, takes a few mags off APN NZ's hands

The worst kept secret in the New Zealand magazine business was confirmed this morning when Bauer announced it had added APN-owned magazines The NZ Listener, NZ Woman’s Weekly, Simply You, Simply You Living and Creme to its roster, subject to Commerce Commission approval. 

APN will continue to publish the Pacific Magazines titles New Idea, That's Life and Girlfriend, which it has published under license since 2010 (it’s thought there’s another couple of years to run on that contract, but, given APN's decision to move away from mags, it seems likely they'll be up for grabs eventually too).

Bauer's chief executive Paul Dykzeul says the deal has been filed with the Commerce Commission for approval and that should go public today or Monday.

“We need to work through that process, but I can’t see it happening this side of Christmas.”

It’s thought APN didn’t see the need for Commerce Commission approval, but Dykzeul says Bauer is "very respectful of the laws in the countries in which they operate in", so rather than just doing it, it wanted to go through the appropriate channels first. But he’s confident it will get approval, partially because in an era of media convergence, the days of magazine companies competing only against magazine companies are well and truly over.

“Our argument will be that we’re competing against radio, we’re competing against TV, we’re competing against everyone.”

He says there will be some redundancies, as it won't be duplicating roles. But he wouldn’t say how many jobs are on the line.

"We're conducting a very formal consultative process in the months ahead. We’ve done a lot of work around how we’re going to do that. And every employee has been given a pack today to take them through the process.” 

As a private company, he says Bauer doesn’t discuss the details of its deals. But as a listed company, APN might announce that in the future (as a listed company, APN also had to let the market know about the deal this morning at 11am).

Dykzeul has been a fairly vocal critic of APN in the past, and of the problems associated with a business primarily focused on newspapers having a magazine division. Even so, he doesn’t think this is a case of giving some unloved children a better home. It’s simply that APN, like all media companies, has been looking at what its core focus should be, and the magazine business wasn’t where it wanted to be. The opposite obviously applies for Bauer. 

“We’ve been pretty fierce competitors over the years [particularly when it comes to the big weeklies Woman's Day and NZ Woman's Weekly] and that competitive streak will continue because they’re continuing to publish the Pacific Mags titles. And we’ll continue to compete with them with their [newspaper inserted magazines]."

Dykzeul says the idea to buy APN's titles was mooted internally around two years ago, but it “had some difficulties at the end of the private equity guys” when it was known as ACP. Bauer, a Hamburg-based company with around 11,000 staff around the world, bought the company in September 2012 for what Fairfax says was an estimated $600 million and he says "it’s a great vote of confidence in the New Zealand business" that it is willing to invest more just 12 months after the purchase—and after investing significantly in shifting the company to a snazzy new office in the City Works Depot. 

“They’re very happy with the way the New Zealand business is going and they want to grow that business.”

He says Bauer has also invested a substantial amount into developing new platforms, particularly digital, an area he admits it is lagging behind on. But, with the recent launch of cleo.co.nz and taste.co.nz, he says it is starting to focus on that area more heavily.

For New Zealand's magazine industry as a whole, having a dedicated international magazine business invest in some very well-established local titles should be seen as a positive move. 

“Bauer feels passionately about the magazine business," says Dykzeul. "We will develop other parts of the business, but if we create those other platforms, it will be done off the back of the magazine business.”

In his role as deputy chair of the Magazine Publisher's Association, he has taken a lead role in promoting the benefits of magazines and dealing with some common misconceptions, to the point where some people think he’s “a bit of a show pony” in that regard. But that confidence is paying off, he says. 

“I really believe in the business and that it has something unique to offer. And it behoves us to tell people about it. I think the work [MPA chair] John Baker has done, with my assistance, has been fantastic. That hasn’t happened in Australia, and they’re paying the price.”

Bauer press release:

Bauer Media Group and APN News and Media Limited today announced that they have entered into a sale and purchase agreement for Bauer to acquire the New Zealand Magazines consumer titles, from APN. The agreement is subject to clearance from the Commerce Commission. 

Under the agreement, all APN wholly owned magazine brands, being the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, The New Zealand Listener, Simply You, Simply You Living and Crème, along with their digital properties, will pass to Bauer. APN will continue to publish New Idea, That’s Life and Girlfriend magazines under licence from the Pacific Magazines Group Australia. 

CEO of Bauer in New Zealand, Paul Dykzeul, said “This is an extraordinary opportunity to significantly enhance Bauer’s business and bring the benefits of an expanded portfolio to readers and advertisers alike.“ 

The synergies and scale that this transaction brings to Bauer will extend the company‘s reach and deepen content and talent in key magazine verticals; the weekly market, current affairs, fashion and beauty, home and garden and the young women’s category. The acquisition will also open the door for new growth and investment, build on Bauer’s brand communities, and deliver new digital touchpoints. 

“It is absolutely a vote of confidence in our business and the future. We look forward to welcoming these talented teams and iconic media brands into the Bauer Media Group as we combine the best of our resources and expertise,” Mr Dykzeul said. 

APN press release: 

APN News and Media Limited and the Bauer Media Group today announced that they have entered into an agreement for the sale and purchase of its New Zealand Magazine consumer titles, including the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. This agreement is subject to clearance from the Commerce Commission. 

Under the agreement, all APN wholly owned magazine brands, being the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, The Listener, Simply You, Simply You Living and Creme will pass to Bauer. 

APN will continue to publish New Idea, That’s Life and Girlfriend magazines under licence from the Pacific Magazines Group Australia. 

The New Zealand Magazines titles will continue to be managed by APN until the transaction completes. 

APN’s New Zealand Media Chief Executive, Martin Simons, said the sale of the magazine portfolio reflects APN’s strategy of an emphasis on growth assets, particularly digital. 

“The development of new, transactional verticals in food, travel and fashion is the priority for APN’s New Zealand Media business,” Mr Simons said. 

“This includes the further integration of APN’s highly successful New Zealand Herald inserted magazines and Herald Online which together will continue to provide high quality content to readers across New Zealand.” 

Mr Simons said APN was confident that the Pacific Magazine titles being retained would continue to play an important role in the New Zealand market, and the smaller business meant it could be more easily networked with APN’s newspaper and online products. 

CEO of Bauer in New Zealand, Paul Dykzeul, said that the sale is an extraordinary opportunity to significantly enhance Bauer’s business and bring the benefits of an expanded portfolio to readers and advertisers alike. 

“It is absolutely a vote of confidence in our business and the future. We look forward to welcoming these talented teams and iconic media brands into the Bauer Media Group as we combine the best of our resources and expertise,” Mr Dykzeul said. 

APN will begin consultation with staff on the proposed sale this morning. As part of the agreement, a number of New Zealand Magazines employees will have the opportunity to transfer to Bauer. Where possible, APN will look to redeploy those who may not be required. 

The APN titles: 

  • New Zealand Woman’s Weekly has a proud history of more than 80 years of informing and inspiring Kiwi women each week. 
  • The NZ Listener is New Zealand’s weekly current affairs title. 
  • Creme is New Zealand’s top selling teen magazine for girls. 
  • Simply You has been the country’s top selling fashion magazine for more than 10 years, and Simply You Living is a bi-annual style leader in interior design. 

APN internal staff announcement: 

APN News & Media and the Bauer Media Group have today announced that they have entered into an agreement for the sale and purchase of New Zealand Magazines’ consumer titles. Under the agreement, all APN wholly owned magazine brands, being the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, The Listener, Simply You, Simply You Living and Creme will pass to Bauer.

The Pacific Magazines titles – New Idea, That’s Life and Girlfriend – are not affected by the transaction and APN will continue to publish these magazines under licence from the Pacific Magazines Group Australia.

The sale to Bauer is subject to clearance from the Commerce Commission and the New Zealand Magazines’ titles will continue to be managed by APN until the transaction completes.

The sale of the company’s wholly owned magazine portfolio reflects APN’s strategy to focus on more digital opportunities. Continuing to drive our newspaper businesses and the development of new, transactional verticals in food, travel and fashion is our priority. This includes further digital integration of our highly successful New Zealand Herald inserted magazines with Herald Online, which together will continue to provide high quality content to readers across New Zealand.

We are confident that the Pacific Magazine titles being retained will continue to play an important role in the New Zealand market, and the smaller magazines portfolio means it can be more easily networked with APN’s newspaper and online products.

APN began consultation with staff on the proposed sale this morning. As part of the agreement, the majority of New Zealand Magazines employees will have the opportunity to transfer to Bauer. Where possible, APN will look to redeploy those who may not be required.

In the event that the transaction is not approved by the NZCC, APN will retain all magazine titles and continue to publish.

Martin Simons

CEO, APN New Zealand

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