Independent group in Australian sale

INFORMA, the exhibitions and publications group that was created in December by the merger of LLP and IBC, yesterday added Australia's oldest maritime newspaper, the Daily Commercial News, to its stable.

Informa is buying the title for A$10m (pounds 6.2m) from APN News & Media, the Australian media group in which Independent Newspapers, owner of The Independent, has a 33 per cent stake.

Informa plans to combine the Daily Commercial News, which was set up in 1891, with its own title, Lloyd's List Australian Weekly. From April, a combined paper will be published three times a week.

David Gilbertson, Informa's chief executive, said the acquisition would "enable Informa to offer an unrivalled information service to the Australian import and export community". The title has 4,000 subscribers and last year made a pre-tax profit of A$900,000 on turnover of A$4.5m.

The news emerged as APN reported a 16 per cent increase in pre-abnormal net profit after tax and minorities to A$35.3m for the year to last December, the sixth year of growth since the company was floated in 1992.

The rise was driven by a 15 per cent increase in operating profits from the broadcasting division and a 10 per cent profits hike from the outdoor advertising unit, which was helped by the accelerating interest in the Olympic Games, to be held in Sydney next year.

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