Who blinked first in Aer Arann dispute?
Cantillon: both sides were yesterday able to claim they had got something
Finally, if all the figures are to be taken into account, the number of mortgages being issued seems to be declining. In the first half of 2009, when the downturn was in full-swing, 23,683 mortgages were issued.
This figure amounted to 14,781 in the first-half of 2010, 6,810 in the first-half of 2011 and 5,855 in the first-half of 2012. This year just 5,297 mortgages were issued in the first-half. Where is the significant increase and growth in that?
Is the worm turning for INM?
When Independent News & Media (INM) fought earlier this year to scupper a rights issue at APN, the Australian publisher in which it holds a 29 per cent stake, the conventional wisdom was that it was solely because the Irish group could not afford to participate. But had INM also seen something the rest of the market had missed?
The conventional wisdom seemed logical enough. Back in February, INM was labouring under more than €400 million of debt. The snap Aus$120 million (€82.6 million) rights issue proposed by APN’s board meant INM would have had to ferret down the back of the couch for cash it couldn’t afford to hand over, or face being almost wiped off the register.
INM, with the help of some other shareholders, set its face against the APN board and sank the fundraising. APN’s chairman and chief executive, along with three independent directors, walked the plank.
Since then, the new chief executive Michael Miller has cosied up to Denis O’Brien, INM’s biggest shareholder. They have even attended rugby matches together. The next time they meet, the conversation could well get even jollier.
APN, which has been struggling like all newspaper publishers, yesterday released a solid set of half-year results that stunned the market down under. Its revenues were up 5 per cent to $426 million, and it posted almost $13 million of pre-tax profits, against a $319 million loss the same time last year. Kangaroo-like, its share price bounced a hearty 21 per cent.
Market observers down under have been salivating since the results were released.
“Finally, I think the worm is turning,” Simon Marais of APN’s second biggest shareholder Allan Gray told a local newspaper.
“Should market conditions ever improve, earnings could really jump in APN and given its very low multiple, the share price could explode.”
If that happens, INM could be back in the clover. After having slashed its own debt pile to less than €120 million, the Irish company may now also be primed to cash in on its Australian investment. Is APN now the jewel in the INM crown?