Second big investor joins INM in opposing APN rights issue
APN News Media’s chief executive came under more pressure to resign yesterday after a second big investor joined Dublin-based Independent News Media in opposing raising capital from shareholders.
Trading in APN News Media shares was suspended in Australia and it is understood a board meeting will be held today on the stewardship of Bret Chenoweth and his plan to raise capital via a rights issue. This move is opposed by INM, which owns 28.95 per cent of APN.
INM has requested an egm that would consider the removal of Mr Chenoweth from the board along with directors Melinda Conrad, John Harvey, Peter Hunt, Kevin Luscombe and John Maasland. Yesterday, fund manager Allen Gray, which owns 19 per cent of APN, said it would seek to have the chief executive removed if the capital raising went ahead.
INM, currently trying to restructure debts and resolve a near €130 million pension fund deficit, would not be able to participate in any rights issue by APN. Its stake would be diluted to 15 per cent if the proposed capital raising went ahead.
INM has two members on the APN board – chief executive Vincent Crowley and non-executive director Paul Connolly. They are expected to oppose the rights issue at today’s board meeting and could push for Mr Chenoweth to step down as chief executive, a role he has held for the past two years.
On Thursday, INM said it had lost confidence in Mr Chenoweth’s “ability to implement the strategic initiatives necessary to reposition APN for the more challenged media landscape” in Australia.
It cited a near-halving of APN’s interim profits up to the middle of 2012.
APN said “non-INM” directors “unanimously support” Mr Chenoweth.