ARN parent company HT&E to free up capital by selling Soprano stake

Former Editor & Content Director

Here, There & Everywhere (HT&E), the parent company of the Australian Radio Network (ARN), has entered a non-binding agreement to sell its 25% stake in Soprano.

Should the deal proceed, it would be worth $149 million. HT&E’s stake in the software vendor has been valued at $139 million. In addition, HT&E would receive a pre-transaction dividend payment of $10 million.

While there is no certainty the sale to Link Mobility will occur, both parties are now doing due diligence. From there, the parties can enter into a binding share purchase agreement, which would likely occur some time in July.

Link Mobility is looking to acquire 100% of the company via a combination of cash and equity.

The extra $149 million could assist HT&E’s acquisition ambitions, with CEO Ciaran Davis recently telling Radio Today there is bound to be more media consolidation in the coming years.

In recent years, the holding company has been shedding its non-audio assets, including selling street furniture business AdShel to oOh!media for $570 million, shuttering esports business Gfinity and selling off or closing a number of its publishing assets.

After the company’s recent annual general meeting, however, Davis said no deal was off the table and the company is “open to anything” when it comes to acquiring assets or striking media partnership deals.

“We’ve got a board and management team and a very clear vision for how this market is going to move in the next three to five years. Consolidation is absolutely going to happen, because advertisers, CMOs, brands are looking for a partner who can offer scale, reach, multi-platform content delivery and increasingly offer addressable IDs so they can engage on a much more one-to-one spectrum,” he told Radio Today, citing Nine and its integrated offering of TV, broadcast video on demand, subscription video service Stan, newspapers and radio as a successful example of this consolidation.

He will look at any opportunity which will help the company grow its balance sheet and business beyond what it has today, he said.

“We have a very deep understanding of out-of-home in building AdShel, we’ve got a board that has got very broad advertising, communications, corporate financial, media experience. We’ve got a very strong balance sheet. And we’re looking to see how we can grow our offering in the market to be a much larger media player in this country,” he added.

In addition to diversifying and shoring up its revenue streams via mergers and acquisitions, ARN is also looking at moving away from being purely advertising-funded and instead looking at subscription models.

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