ARN responds to ASX about radio contract extension leaks
The Australian Radio Network (ARN or A1N on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)) posted a Response to ASX Query Letter on their ASX Announcements page last week, which I glossed over at the time thinking it was an update on the previous day’s announcement of a review into the Australian Government Takeovers Panel’s finding of unacceptable circumstances in ARN’s takeover bid of SCA (you can go further down that rabbit hole here), but it’s not.
The letter is a response to a letter they received from a Mr Stuart Roberts from Listings Compliance at the ASX about the timing of the Kyle and Jackie O and Christian O’Connell contract extensions media release, which we all woke up to on Wednesday morning November 22.
It appears that Sam Buckingham-Jones from the Australian Financial Review (AFR) obtained the details of the contract extensions, and on Tuesday night November 21 made ARN aware that the AFR was going to publish them. First.
That Tuesday night, according to this response, the contracts were agreed in principle but not yet signed.
We know that the news of the deal, and hence the loss of their breakfast show, was passed on to Jase and Lauren at KIIS in Melbourne that Tuesday night while Jase was trying to put the kids to bed. Someone also let Buckingham-Jones know.
Rather than wait for the news to be broken via a media release to all and sundry, Buckingham-Jones pushed ARN into action. Helen McCombie from Citadel-MAGNUS, an external corporate communications advisor for ARN provided Buckingham-Smith with a draft release around 10pm on Tuesday night the 21st, and a secondary one at 5:38am the next morning Wednesday the 22nd, once the contracts were finally signed.
After that, just before 7am, ARN lodged their announcement of the contracts extensions with the ASX.
The timing didn’t really impact A1N’s trading on the ASX. ARN said:
“At no time was the market trading on an uninformed basis”, but it is relevant to note that ARN’s stock value has gone up since the contracts extensions announcements.
ARN says this was a one off and won’t happen again, but the timing of it, when they want their “unacceptable circumstances” ruling reviewed as well, is unfortunate.
“We will also review the Market Disclosure Policy to make express reference to media briefings.”
I have no doubt they will. There might also be a clause about the impact of any prior disclosure to journalists of contract details before that contract is fully signed.