APN remains in trading halt amid EGM request

By a staff reporter, with AAP

Shares in APN News & Media Ltd will remain in a trading halt as the group weighs a request to hold an extraordinary general meeting as its shareholders and board members continue to bicker over a proposed capital raising.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, APN said the request came from its largest shareholder Independent News & Media (INM) and the meeting would consider resolutions for the removal of directors Peter Hunt, Brett Chenoweth, Melinda Conrad, John Harvey, Kevin Luscombe and John Maasland.

"APN intends to make a further announcement during the course of the day concerning the potential capital raising and other matters," the group said.

INM said it was not calling for the removal of directors Paul Connolly, Peter Cosgrove, Vincent Crowley and Albert Harris "to ensure APN will continue to have a sufficient number of directors".

"If all resolutions are passed, INM would expect that the continuing directors would seek to identify and appoint additional independent directors who have the skills and commitment to contribute to the board's consideration of strategies and initiatives to restore value," INM said.

Earlier reports suggested chief executive Mr Chenoweth was on the cusp of leading an exodus from APN that could include the exit of chairman Mr Hunt and three non-executive directors.

According to The Australian, an emergency board meeting over the weekend failed to convince board members Vincent Crowley and Peter Cosgrove, acting on behalf of Irish publisher Independent News & Media, which holds a 28.95 per cent stake in APN, to support the raising.

All of the independent directors on the APN board have signed off on the capital raising, however, with the group's market capitalisation sitting at $198 million and its debt levels at an estimated $470 million, several board members are reportedly considering a swift exit as the best option.

The Australian reports no specifics of the raising were discussed, but board members did stress that Macquarie Capital has urged APN to proceed with the move.

Last week, APN's shares were placed in halt, amid reports IN&M was pushing to oust Mr Chenoweth.

British and Irish media reports said IN&M had lost confidence in Mr Chenoweth.

More from Business Spectator