Nine Entertainment has agreed to sell its regional and community newspapers for $115 million, offloading about 170 titles acquired last year in its merger with Fairfax Media.
The Australian Community Media and Printing titles, which include the Illawarra Mercury, the Canberra Times, the Newcastle Herald, The Land and Queensland Country Life, have been bought by a company controlled by former Fairfax executive Antony Catalano and ASX-listed Thorney Investment Group.
Nine, which will retain metropolitan titles including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, said on Tuesday it will receive $115 million in cash plus up to $10 million of advertising in ACM titles over three years.
"The sale of ACM is aligned with our strategy to exit non-core businesses and to focus on Nine's portfolio of high-growth, digital assets," Nine chief executive Hugh Marks said in a statement.
"We will retain a commercial relationship with ACM and look forward to continuing to work with the business in areas where there are mutual benefits to both Nine and ACM."
The deal includes a content-sharing arrangement "for a short transitional period" and preserves commercial arrangements including ACM's printing of Nine's metropolitan titles.
Mr Catalano spent 26 years with Fairfax and was chief executive of Domain for four years, leading the property classifieds business through its 2017 spinoff from Fairfax into a separately listed business.
He quit in January last year and failed in a last-ditch attempt in Federal Court to prevent the merger between Fairfax and Nine by buying a blocking stake in the old newspaper publisher.
Nine shares were valued at $1.74 before the start of trade on Tuesday, up 26 per cent this calendar year.