But he said he was still bullish on his prospects to buy the business given the strength of the four major regional publications in the stable which would become the centrepieces of a growing business.
«It’s not like the business is a gold mine as it is, you have to roll up your sleeves and get in there and invest,» Mr Catalano said.
It’s not like the business is a gold mine as it is, you have to roll up your sleeves and get in there and invest.
«But it’s got four or five really significant regional city papers like the Border Mail, the Canberra Times, the Illawarra Mercury and the Newcastle Herald — these are regional cities, not regional towns — and I think that’s where it can become a really good hub of quality papers.
«The Canberra Times should be producing its own political coverage from the heartland of Australian politics; it doesn’t have a paid subscription model yet they do for the Border Mail — there’s some stuff that doesn’t make sense [to the portfolio] but it’s an exciting opportunity for wheover gets it.»
The Waislitz-backed bid is facing competition for the business from private equity giants Allegro Funds and Anchorage Capital Partners.
Anchorage has tapped former ACM director John Angilley to help with the deal, and Anchorage Capital Partners has taken on former Seven West Media chief operating officer Nick Chan for the deal.
Nine, which publishes this masthead, inherited the ACM portfolio as part of its $4 billion merger with Fairfax Media. It also includes agricultural titles such as The Land, Stock and Land and Queensland Country Life.
Nine expects the business will make around $44m in earnings before tax during fiscal 2019, before stabilising at around $50m over the next three years.
Representatives from Nine declined to comment on the report that there were asbestos management plans in place at some sites throughout the business.
Nine’s share price has climbed steadily since announcing plans for the sale in February, closing yesterday at $1.79, about 25 per cent higher than its $1.44 share price before the sale process was announced in mid-February.
Samantha is the The Age’s CBD columnist. She recently covered Victorian and NSW politics and business for News Corp, and previously worked for the Australian Financial Review.