Media group bought out of receivership


MANAGEMENT AT the Irish regional newspaper publisher Celtic Media Group have bought it out of receivership in a deal that will see Lloyds Banking Group in Britain take a €32.5 million haircut on its loans.

The titles were owned by Scottish media company Dunfermline Press, which spent €65 million acquiring the titles between late 2002 and mid-2004. These deals were completed by Deirdre Romanes, who ran Dunfermline Press until her death in May 2010.

Michael O’Regan of PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed as receiver of Celtic Media Group on Wednesday at the request of its Scottish owners. Celtic Media had been trying to refinance its loans since 2009 and had been on the blocks for some time.

All trade creditors and suppliers are to be paid in full under the terms of the receivership.

This deal secures 125 jobs at the group, which publishes six titles – the Anglo Celt in Cavan, the Meath Chronicle, the Westmeath Independent and Westmeath Examiner, the Offaly Independent and Forum in south Meath.

The buyout is led by chief executive Frank Mulrennan, finance director Frank Long and chairman John Wood. Eleven editors and sales managers will have a 25 per cent stake in the business. Mr Mulrennan will hold the biggest stake.

The buyout has been funded with a €5.5 million loan from Lloyds, which was owed €38 million from loans provided by Bank of Scotland during the boom.

Mr Mulrennan said Lloyds had acted in a “pragmatic manner” in relation to the deal. “Management is buying the company at fair value and this means it does not have a major overhang of debt,” he said.

Mr Mulrennan, a former executive with Independent News Media, said the company would have revenues this year of about €11 million and ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of €1.5 million.

In 2008, its revenues stood at €19.5 million. Mr Mulrennan said the group’s advertising revenues this year would be down by 10 to 12 per cent as Irish print media continued to be affected by the recession.