Racing Post €180m debt bought by owners with backing of Hayfin

Move secures future of racing bible

 Alan Byrne, editor and chief executive of The Racing Post, at the launch of the Irish Racing Post with Rory McIlroy and Ruby Walsh in 2010. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Alan Byrne, editor and chief executive of The Racing Post, at the launch of the Irish Racing Post with Rory McIlroy and Ruby Walsh in 2010. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Stradbrook Acquisitions, the owner of the Racing Post, has acquired the title’s debt from the special liquidators of IBRC.

Stradbrook succeeded in buying the famous racing bible with the support of Hayfin Capital Management, a specialist debt finance provider.

Debts of the Racing Post are estimated at €180 million and up to five parties were in the race to take control of the business by acquiring its loan which originated from the former Anglo Irish Bank. British publisher Tom Hailstone, backed by private equity giant Apollo, was among the underbidders.

Stradbrook is owned by about 20 shareholders including its senior management led by Alan Byrne, the chief executive and editor-in-chief of the Racing Post, and the founders of FL Partners Peter Crowley and Neill Hughes. It is understood to be majority Irish owned.

The Racing Post has a turnover of more than £50 million (€63.5m) from sales of its newspaper, online subscribers, advertisers and corporate partnership deals.

It employs 275 people and has 1.4 million unique monthly digital users on top of its print sales which can cross 100,000 on big race days.

The title trades profitably but its large debt interest repayments have weighed on the business in recent years. Stradbrook acquired the Racing Post in 2007 from Trinity Mirror.

The new owners are expected to invest further in expanding the reach of the respected brand both online and in print.

The Racing Post was founded in April 1986 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, of Dubai.

He owns the Racing Post trademark in perpetuity and Stradbrook secured a licence from him to use the trademark.

Hayfin Capital Management has specialised in providing lending solutions to European medium-sized companies since it was established in 2009.