Bauer looking to sell Australian business

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The German owner of Australia's biggest magazine publisher, Bauer Media, is reportedly in talks to offload the business, following a troubled few weeks for the company.

Bauer 359
Troubled time down under: Bauer Media

Private equity fund Mercury capital is front runner to buy the company, according to financial reports. The global publishing giant Bauer bought the business from ACP in 2012 for $525m, any sale price it achieves is likely to be substantially less, more in the region of $150m.

Only last week Bauer bought rival Pacific Magazines, giving the company around 55-60 per cent of the Australian magazine business. Bauer paid $40m for Pacific, a figure it tried to halve before the deal went through. On completion of the deal it immediately made 60 Pacific staff redundant. The same week 70 of its own staff suffered the same fate, with another 70 stood down.

Print magazines are being axed, including Bauer titles Elle, Harper's Bazaar, OK, and NW, while from Pacific, Men's Health and Women's Health are no longer troubling press operators.

Bauer currently uses Ovato for its magazine printing, while IVE has the Pacific contract. Now the two publishers are one, but industry insiders say it is unlikely the merged business will choose just one printer, for reasons of redundancy and pricing. Nonetheless, execs at the country's two biggest printers will be nervous over what is becoming an uncertain future.

Yvonne Bauer 
Adventure down under: Yvonne Bauer

Three weeks ago, Bauer closed its New Zealand business entirely – it was also the biggest publisher across the Tasman – when the government ordered all printing except that deemed essential to cease under its strict level 4 lockdown measures.

Bauer's time down under cannot be called a success, it is likely to receive only a fraction of its buy price if it sells. It has closed multiple magazines including former top sellers like Cosmopolitan, Dolly, and Cleo, closed its entire NZ business, been through six CEOs in eight years, and seen hundreds of redundancies.

Bauer Media in Australia was originally the Kerry Packer-owned ACP. Bauer is a privately owned family company with Yvonne Bauer at the head.

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