Publisher of 'Irish Examiner' in receivership
After months of preparation and much speculation in media circles, Cork-based Thomas Crosbie Holdings was placed in receivership yesterday, thereby relinquishing control of the Irish Examiner national daily newspaper and a raft of other titles and radio stations.
It also ended a long association with the venerable Cork newspaper of two branches of the Crosbie family, including chairman Alan Crosbie.
In a complex restructuring, his cousin Tom Crosbie, supported by his father Ted, has taken control of most of the media assets of TCH via a new company called Landmark Media Investments Ltd.
It was not clear last night how much Mr Crosbie has paid or what funding he might be providing for the business going forward.
Neither Mr Crosbie nor Landmark’s chief executive Tom Murphy, who previously led TCH, were available for comment last night.
In a statement, Mr Murphy said this deal would allow the Examiner and associated assets to make a “fresh start”.
It secures 554 jobs, which will transfer to the new entity on the same terms and conditions.
However, the Sunday Business Post, which employs 76 people, will today seek to enter examinership. It is understood the Sunday newspaper was excluded from the Landmark deal as AIB, TCH’s main lender, did not have a charge over its assets.
Landmark and Mr Crosbie are expected to seek to acquire the Sunday title from the examiner.
The restructuring deal was executed by way of a pre-pack receivership, which had been in preparation for some months and involved Kieran Wallace of KPMG, whose other roles include an appointment as special liquidator of IBRC.
TCH was loss-making (it dropped €5.8 million in the year to the end of January 2011), had significant debt (€19.1 million) and was locked into a printing contract that it could no longer afford given the collapse in newspaper sales and advertising since 2006.
AIB, its main lender, supported the financial restructuring. The bank is thought to be owed about €15 million. It was not clear yesterday if AIB was writing off any of this debt. AIB would say only it had “agreed to extend significant additional refinancing facilities” to Landmark.
Change of ownership
There will be losers from this change of ownership. One of those would appear to be Webprint Concepts Ltd, a company based in Mahon Point that had the contract to print TCH’s newspapers.
It began operations at a new plant in Mahon Point in 2006, signing a lucrative contract with TCH. TCH accounts for about two-thirds of Webprint’s business.
Latest accounts for Webprint show it made a profit of €1.76 million from turnover of €15.3 million in 2011.