Jobs may go as 'Business & Finance' fetches £1m

 

The weekly magazine Business & Finance has been sold for about £1 million (€1.3 million) to a consortium led by the company's executive director, Mr Ian Hyland. The magazine and affiliate firms have significant debt and it is thought that up to 10 jobs from a staff of 45 could be at risk when the new owners take over in January.

The major beneficiary of the deal will Mr William Ambrose, who is chairman of Belenos, the magazine's publisher. It is thought that Belenos had debts of more than £600,000.

The deal is structured as a buy-out of Belenos's parent, Baal Securities. Mr Ambrose is understood to own 40 per cent of that company.

Other 10 per cent shareholders include businessman Mr Michael Norris, who is understood to have considered buying the company earlier this year. Mr Norris's daughter, Ms Lisa Cosgrave, is chief operations officer and a 10 per cent shareholder. The chief executive of Belenos, Mr John Magee, is also understood to be a 10 per cent shareholder. It is understood that Mr Magee will not be staying on at Business & Finance when the deal is closed.

Other investors with minor shareholdings include a former Fianna Fβil minister and academic economist, Mr Martin O'Donoghue, and the editor of Business & Finance, Mr Vincent Wall. It is understood that Mr Wall has agreed to remain as editor.

Mr Hyland already held 10 per cent of the company before the deal. He is expected to leave an internet venture, iCommerce.ie, to head the commercial operation of the magazine. ICommerce is part-owned by the magazine and by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.

Mr Hyland's consortium is backed by an accountant, Mr Elgin Loane, who is a son of Mr Nelson Loane, chief executive of the Adare printing group. It is thought that Mr Loane snr has funded part of the purchase.

Discussions had been under way for some months and it is thought the financial situation at Belenos was increasingly fraught as revenue from advertisements fell amid slower economic growth. The company has a conferencing division and operates a Web-based news service, Business & Finance Live.

Significant restructuring is expected when the deal is completed by Mr Hyland, a former Irish Press executive.