APN looks to sack CEO and join with News Ltd

Independent News & Media, which owns 17.6% of the company, and News & Media NZ, which controls 11.3%, have called for the removal of chief executive Brett Chenoweth, chairman Peter Hunt and four non-executive directors.

They said the only reason they hadn't also demanded the resignation of the other four board members was so that APN would have enough directors left to run the business.

The two shareholders have asked APN to call a general meeting to vote on the resolutions. If passed, the remaining directors would be expected to appoint replacements who can "contribute to the board's consideration of strategies and initiatives to restore value".

APN's other major shareholder is investment management firm Allan Gray, which owns 19.8% of the company. The Australian reported today that managing director Simon Marais supported the sacking of Chenoweth and Hunt and opposed the proposed capital raising.

[Related: APN closes two newspapers]

"It's better that they go because it's a silly thing to do… putting the cart before the horse," he told The Australian. "The important thing to do is turn the business around and get it fixed."

Meanwhile, well-placed industry sources have told ProPrint that rumours of a printing partnership between APN and News Limited were realistic.

Neither APN nor News Ltd would comment on reports in the Australian Financial Review that they "are examining a printing partnership in Queensland to cut costs, improve distribution and overcome some of the challenges facing the sector".

Fairfax Media and News Ltd held unsuccessful partnership talks in 2011-12. However, one source told ProPrint that APN and News were better placed to strike a deal because they had less of a rivalry, with APN focusing on regional publications and News on metropolitan dailies.

Both media groups could make savings by consolidating their under-utilised printing facilities and sharing trucks. Combining production and delivery operations is said to be a straightforward task, although it could be harder for the two parties to agree on schedules.

[LinkedIn: Was Murdoch right to say newspapers are dying?]

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