Stuff NZ sold for $1, Nine keeps print plant
Nine has sold its former Fairfax NZ newspaper business Stuff for the princely sum of $1, and a Kiwi dollar at that, but is keeping its printing plant, which it will lease back to Stuff.
Stuff owns nine daily newspapers including The Dominion Post and The Press, the recently awarded weekly newspaper of the year, Sunday Star-Times, and the New Zealand social media network Neighbourly. It also operates the country’s largest news website, Stuff.co.nz.
The print production plant in Petone, Wellington produces most of the Stuff newspapers. Last year it took out the Kodak Green Leaf sustainability award; it uses 100 per cent chemical-free processing, 100 per cent recycled paper, bio-degradable vegetable inks, and has a host of recycling programmes.
The new Stuff owner is current chief executive, former journalist, Sinead Boucher, who is expected to bring investors on board, and has said she wants staff to take a stake. She has bought a business which, as of June last year, had liabilities of NZ$73.9m. Profit in the last financial year was NZ$5.5m on revenues which had declined by 12 per cent to NZ$269m.
In the first half of this year revenue was up slightly in the previous period, to NZ$129m. However, even by April, Boucher told government Stuff revenue was down by half.
Nine gained Stuff with its merger with Fairfax two years ago, since then it has been subject to several attempts to buy it by NZME, owner of the New Zealand Herald, the latest of which was rebuffed by the competition commission last week.
The Kiwi media industry has been smashed by the effects of Covid-19 and the government's controversial decision to close the economy completely under Level 4 restrictions. It was already under siege from ads migrating to Facebook and Google. When Bauer closed 250 jobs went, NZME has axed around 200 positions, industry insiders suggest around 130 jobs could go at Stuff.