'Away from home' APN News & Media looks for new name

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Having "redefined" its business in 2016, former newspaper publisher APN News & Media is getting around to changing its name.

Shareholders have been told to expect more news at the company's annual meeting in May.

In the meantime, confusion continues as both APN News & Media and APN Outdoor - which it spun off and sold - are frequently referred to as APN, the short-form acronym which was once Australian Provincial Newspapers.

This is the business once based on regional newspapers in Queensland and NSW, bought by the family of Tony O'Reilly following News Limited's acquisition of the Herald & Weekly Times in 1987. APN News & Media sold its print-focussed Australian regional media business back to News last year, and has exited newspaper publishing in New Zealand with the float of NZME. as a separate company.

Now the company - which says it is moving from being a holder of media assets to "a more integrated approach" - is set to find a new name for itself, representative of its "unique 'away from home' advertiser proposition".

Group components are Australian Radio Network, Adshel - of which it acquired full ownership last October - Emotive and Conversant Media, which publishes The Roar and Techly. These will work closer together as a group to "derive revenue and new opportunities across the board".

It's been a big couple of years for Ciaran Davis, who was promoted to chief executive and managing director of APN News & Media in August 2015, having headed ARN, where he is credited with repositioning the business as Australia's number one metro radio operator. He had arrived from Communicorp in Ireland, where he spent ten years in radio and media leadership roles. His predecessor, Michael Miller, headed to a new role as executive chairman of News Corp Australia.

After disposing of its print publishing activities and seeing APN Outdoor merge with Adshel's biggest competitor, Davis now oversees a very different business, but one he says holds a unique position in Australian media, operating in sectors that experienced strong growth in 2016.

"While each business is strong individually, they offer a greater platform for growth when operating in a more collegiate and unified way," the company says in its shareholder review.

"Integration where appropriate is being explored, with revenue growth the key consideration. New go-to-market strategies are being developed and a new, stronger vision for future growth is being built."

Financial results for calendar year 2016 show an increase in revenue to $298.6 million, up from $259 million the previous year.

Mission accomplished, perhaps... just what do you call it?

Peter Coleman

Pictured: APN News & Media chief executive and managing director Ciaran Davis answers questions in a company video

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