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Panpa Bulletin : July 2007
PANPA Bulletin July 2007 17 news APN acquires all of Toowoomba Newspapers By Jack Beverley Hopkins told shareholders that the realignment of the company's press facilities under a central services structure would allow newspaper sites to concentrate on the business of publishing. Realignment of all its press facilities under a central services structure and upgrades to three of its Queensland press centres have been announced by APN News & Media. And in another move that will strengthen its grip on regional publish- ing in the state, APN has acquired from Downs Star Pty Ltd, for an undisclosed sum, the 50 per cent of the Toowoomba Newspapers it did not own. The business -- "one of Australia's most successful regional newspaper opera- tions", according to APN chief executive Brendan Hopkins -- has been jointly run by the two companies since 1988. Details of the new press upgrades and the Toowoomba acquisition were given at APN's annual meeting in Sydney, at which chairman James Parkinson said the company expects earnings before interest, tax, depre- ciation and amortisation to grow 8.7 per cent in fiscal 2007. Trading in the early weeks had been in line with expectations. APN, publisher of The New Zealand Herald, the country's leading daily newspaper, and publisher of 14 regional dailies in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as more than 60 country and community newspapers and maga- zines, turned in a record profit result of $159.5 million in 2006. Hopkins told shareholders that the realignment of the company's press fa- cilities under a central services structure would allow newspaper sites to concen- trate on the business of publishing. The new presses would be at Lismore, Rockhampton and Toowoomba, with an upgrade to Mackay to follow in 2008. The expanded heat and cold-set colour capacity made available follow- ing the development of the Yandina and Bundaberg press centres was opening up new revenue opportunities. The Yandina press, which has com- bined heatset-coldset capability and can produce 72-page products, all in full colour, with gloss functionality, is a unique facility in regional publishing in Australia. Bundaberg specialises in smaller print-run products. Other Queensland developments announced at the meeting included the start-up of a new ad service centre in Brisbane, which replaces multiple regional centres. Hopkins said that in New Zealand, where the market had been flat, plans to implement a centralised sub-editing system for its newspapers were on target for the end of the year. What the takeover means to APN APN's move to full ownership of Toowoomba Newspapers was labeled"a terri c vote of con - dence in the quality of the mastheads" by chief executive Brendan Hopkins. In addition to The Chronicle, the six-day daily, the group publishes the Toowoomba Mail, the Gatton Star, Dalby Herald, Northern Downs News and Roma's Western Star. It also produces specialist publications such as Rural Weekly and the national industry maga- zine, The Pork Producer. "By acquiring 100 per cent of Toowoomba Newspapers we can lock-in future gains and grow the business appropriately," said Hopkins. "This acquisition highlights APN's ongoing commitment to re- gional publishing in Australia." APN Australian Publishing chief executive Mark Jamieson said The Chronicle was one of the country's best regional newspapers and would continue to be the leading media outlet serving the Darling Downs community. "All of the Toowoomba Newspapers publications play a vital role in their local communities and we will be build- ing on that as we enhance the existing newspapers and develop new products for the region." The company's agship, The Chronicle, sells nearly 24,000 copies on weekdays and more than 31,000 on Saturdays. It is the product of the incorporation of two of Queensland's oldest news- papers -- the Darling Downs Gazette, which began publication as a weekly in a wooden shanty on June 10, 1858 -- It merged with The Chronicle, founded as a fourpenny weekly on July 4, 1861, in a coach builder's shop, in 1922. The Chronicle switched from broad- sheet to tabloid in 1969. Central services structure and three press upgrades means APN lock-in future gains and business growth.
August September 2007