Publisher aims for pounds 200m float: Midland Independent Newspapers will use proceeds to cut debt

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The Independent Online
MIDLAND Independent Newspapers, publisher of the Birmingham Post and 51 other paid-for and free newspapers and magazines, is aiming for a value of up to pounds 200m when it comes to the stock market next month.

The offer for sale will raise pounds 100m to be used to reduce debt of pounds 139m. Gearing after flotation will be 37 per cent.

Midland was a pounds 125m management buyout in November 1991 from the US publisher Ralph Ingersoll. Operating profits in the year to last December were pounds 16m, including pounds 785,000 from acquisitions, compared with pounds 13.5m in 1992 and pounds 5.6m in 1991. Profit margins on continuing operations rose from 8.9 per cent in 1991 to 21.4 per cent last year.

Chris Oakley, chief executive, said the company's strategy had been to spread from its Birmingham and Coventry base to cover every town of any size in the East and West Midlands. 'We have launched titles to fill in just about every market gap.'

Mr Oakley believes the regional philosophy can be extended beyond the Midlands, but as yet he has no national ambitions.

Midland has issued libel writs against David Sullivan, owner of Birmingham City Football Club, and the club's managing director, Karren Brady, over faxes sent this week to national newspapers. The faxes purported to be internal Midland documents, but contained malicious falsehoods, Mr Oakley said.

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