Embattled Australian news service AAP is in the final stages of a sale of its Newswire to a consortium of impact investors and philanthropists.
The new owners will continue the news agency operations to provide breaking news, public interest journalism, sports coverage and news photography to Australian media outlets and will maintain the AAP brand.
AAP and the consortium, including former News Corp and Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh, have reached commercial terms and will now enter negotiations to complete a binding sale contract by the middle of June.
AAP CEO Bruce Davidson said the expected sale was a great result for the maintenance of a pure news wire service in Australia.
“I am pleased that, after months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news,” he said.
Peter Tonagh said AAP will be supported by a group of investors and philanthropists committed to independent journalism.
“We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever. AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to working with the AAP team to continue its great work and to find new commercial opportunities to ensure its long-term survival.
“On behalf of the consortium that I lead, after consulting with staff, customers and other stakeholders, our consortium will provide more information about our future plan for AAP.”
He said the consortium would be employing 85-90 AAP staff, including around 70-75 editorial staff, and management, IT and support personnel. Unfortunately, it will mean some job losses overall.
Subject to final agreement, AAP and the consortium will enter a period of transition in the coming weeks and all employees will be consulted regarding opportunities with the new wire service.
The consortium will also continue the AAP FactCheck service.
Other parts of the AAP Group will be retained by the current shareholders. This includes Medianet, Mediaverse, AAP Directories, Pagemasters and Racing operations and these businesses will continue to operate as usual.