Daily News Roundup

July 26, 2018

Image: Nine.com.au

THURSDAY, July 26

Fairfax and Nine have announced a merger that will create an integrated media giant across television, online video streaming, print, digital and real estate advertising.

Nine will be the dominant partner, with its current shareholders holding 51.1 per cent of the merged company’s shares, and the current Nine chief executive and chairman — Hugh Marks and Peter Costello, respectively — leading the combined firm, which will be called Nine.

Fairfax will contribute three directors to a board of six.

Nine’s offer to Fairfax shareholders includes 0.3627 Nine shares for each Fairfax share they currently own and 2.5 cents cash per share.

The deal is around a 22 per cent premium to Fairfax’s closing price of 77 cents yesterday.

Fairfax’s directors have unanimously recommended the deal, unless another company comes in with a better offer.

“The structure of the proposed transaction provides an exciting opportunity for our shareholders to maintain their exposure to Fairfax’s growing businesses whilst also participating in the combination benefits with Nine,” Fairfax’s chairman Nick Falloon said in a statement.

The proposed merged media giant will include Nine’s free-to-air television network, digital advertising businesses (such as Domain), streaming services Stan and 9Now, Fairfax’s newspapers and online publications, as well as Fairfax’s Macquarie Media radio interests.

The companies say they anticipate annual cost savings of at least $50 million, which will be implemented over the next two years.

Nine said it will “review the scope and breadth of the combined business, to align with its strategic objectives and its digital future.”

However, Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood insisted that news and investigations would remain central for the merged company.

“We are confident that the strength of the combined management team and staff will ensure the continuation of our quality journalism,” he said in a statement.

Fairfax recently spun off its highly profitable real estate advertising business Domain into a company separately listed on the ASX, which Fairfax still owns around 60 per cent of.

Any deal remains subject to shareholder approval from both companies, as well as a review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which it said is likely to take around three months to complete.

“The ACCC expects to commence a public review of the proposed merger, once it has received submissions and relevant information from Fairfax and Nine,” a spokesperson noted in a statement.

“The purpose of the public review is to assess whether the proposed merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in any market.”

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United States President Donald Trump’s proposed Washington meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin had been delayed until 2019, the White House says, citing the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mr Putin had already sent signals that the White House meeting was not going to happen.

National security adviser John Bolton said Mr Trump now believed his next meeting with Mr Putin should take place “after the Russia witch-hunt is over”, a reference to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, ABC News reports.

“So we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” he said.

While the statement signalled optimism that the Mueller probe would be completed by the end of this year, no timetable has been given for when it will be wrapped up and it could very well stretch into 2019.

The White House said last week that Mr Trump had directed Mr Bolton to invite Mr Putin to visit Washington later this year, moving quickly for a follow-up meeting amid the backlash over Mr Trump’s performance at a news conference with his Russian counterpart following their Helsinki summit last week.

Many members of Congress had objected to the two leaders meeting again later this year, saying Mr Putin would not be welcome on Capitol Hill.

“That’s a wise approach,” said Republican Senator John Kennedy after learning of the delay. “I thought it was premature.”

The decision came days after the White House rejected a Putin-backed effort to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine on the region’s future.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said prior to the announcement that the US would never recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and demanded that Ukraine’s territorial integrity be restored.

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An Adelaide cabaret star whose onstage persona is that of a camp German accordion player has captured the hearts of millions and gone where no Australian has gone before by qualifying for the live finals of America’s Got Talent.

Known professionally as Hans, the self-proclaimed “international superstar, sex symbol, accordionist, home wrecker, Madonna fan”, impressed the judges — including German supermodel Heidi Klum and Spice Girl Mel B — with his performance of the song It’s Raining Men.

He is understood to be the first Australian in the history of the US TV show, which is currently in its 13th season, to make it this far.

“I am just a little German boy standing in front of a music mogul asking him to love me,” Hans told judge Simon Cowell, in a nod to the movie Notting Hill, before his act began.

“You better prepare yourself Simon. You are going to see something you’ve never seen before.”

The typically acerbic Cowell replied “shall we just make this happen?” before Hans launched into his rendition of the 1982 disco hit, replete with umbrellas, backing dancers, signature moves and stockings.

After the flamboyance reached its peak, there was yet more banter.

“You definitely crammed it all in tonight,” Cowell said, before Mel B told Hans he was “the gift that keeps on giving”.

PHOTO: Cabaret star Hans, aka Matt Gilbertson, is enjoying a major rise in profile. (Facebook: Hans)

“I’m thrilled with the reaction. I’m just here to give the world a show!” he told the ABC via Facebook, before hinting at a bigger and better performance next time.

 

This daily news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News. 

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