Mecom emerges from debt trap — for now

Mecom’s sale of its German newspapers will allow the company run by David Montgomery to pay off around one-quarter of its â‚¬650m net debt.

Mecom is selling Berliner Zeitung and the Hamburger Morgenpost for €152m.

You might be inclined to think of this as an object lesson for Mr Montgomery. After all, he cumulatively laid out some €200m to break into the German market.

But that would be to ignore the effect of currency movements since London-based Mecom ventured into Berlin and Hamburg.

According to Dan Sabbagh at the Times, the pound’s recent collapse means that Mecom will “roughly break even” on the deal. By contrast, the best guess of Scandinavian media blogger Kristine Lowe seems to be that Mecom will absorb a small loss.

Either way, David Montgomery appears to have secured his company’s future and emerged from the credit crunch on something like an even-stevens basis. It could all have been a lot, lot worse.

The remaining journalists employed by Mecom in Scandinavia will probably agree that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. Some might regret the fact that their papers weren’t sold instead. But presumably their jobs look a mite safer this week.

If you’re a debt-laden publisher, finding a buyer for newspaper assets is hard enough. Emerging from any subsequent deal without losses is quite a feat.

Executives at Johnston Press, Newsquest and Trinity Mirror must be green with envy. 

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Mecom emerges from debt trap - for now

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