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Australia's Fairfax ends talks with private equity suitors without formal bid

  • Australia's oldest newspaper publisher Fairfax Media ended talks with two U.S. private equity suitors.
  • The publisher last month fielded bids worth as much as A$2.87 billion from TPG Capital Management and Hellman & Friedman.

Australia's Fairfax Media on Monday said it had ceased discussions with two U.S private equity suitors, ending investor hopes of a protracted battle for Australia's oldest newspaper publisher.

The publisher last month fielded bids worth as much as A$2.87 billion ($2.2 billion) from TPG Capital Management LP and Hellman & Friedman, and both firms were granted due diligence.

"Following the conclusion of this process Fairfax did not receive a binding offer from either the TPG Consortium or Hellman & Friedman. Accordingly, the Fairfax board has ceased discussions with both parties," Fairfax said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Fairfax said it would proceed with previously announced plans to demerge its profitable property classifieds division, Domain Group, by the end of 2017.

Domain is the company's biggest profit generator and in a trading update also issued on Monday, Fairfax said it expected Domain's revenue to rise 10 percent for the year to June 30, 2018, while revenues for its newspapers and radio divisions would fall.

The forecast EBITDA range of between A$262 million and A$266 million is in line with the expectations of two analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/E/B/S.

The buyer interest in the 186-year-old publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review newspapers had sent its shares soaring to a six-year high of A$1.270 in early June.

Fairfax investors had watched the stock sink from A$4.99 in 2007, when its long-term problems began with the migration of classified advertising to the internet.

Shares in the company slid 8 percent in late trade on Friday after The Australian newspaper reported Hellman & Friedman was unlikely to lodge a formal bid.

A Hellman & Friedman spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

TPG announced on Sunday it had abandoned its A$1.20-per-share bid and a spokesman said the firm had no further comment on Monday.