NZME enters deal to buy business news website BusinessDesk for up to $5m

NZME has entered into an agreement to buy BusinessDesk.

Simon Maude/Stuff

NZME has entered into an agreement to buy BusinessDesk.

New Zealand Herald publisher NZME has entered an agreement to buy business news website BusinessDesk for a deal worth up to $5 million.

Under the conditional agreement NZME will pay $3.5m cash for BusinessDesk. On completion of the sale BusinessDesk’s publisher Content will receive an additional amount of up to $1.5m if targets are met by December 2023.

BusinessDesk launched as a business newswire service in 2008. Last year, it launched a paid subscription news service, which has more than 10,000 digital subscribers.

The transaction is expected to complete in the first part of next year. The BusinessDesk brand will continue as a subscription offering.

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The sale is conditional on:

  • No material adverse change occurring;
  • Transfer of staff and contractors to operate the business
  • Content shareholder approval
  • Satisfactory engagement with the Commerce Commission in relation to the transaction

In a statement to the NZX on Tuesday morning NZME chief executive Michael Boggs said all BusinessDesk staff would be offered roles with NZME, resulting in an anticipated 35 business journalists across the BusinessDesk and New Zealand Herald newsrooms.

BusinessDesk editor and chief executive Pattrick Smellie said Covid-19 had created challenges, but it had also revealed a strong appetite for business news.

Investment by business commentator, BusinessDesk contributor and Milford Asset Management co-founder Brian Gaynor, allowed BusinessDesk to switch to a paywall model.

In a column on Tuesday Smellie said since launching 14 years ago it had grown from a staff of five full-time reporters to employ more than 20 people, almost all of them in editorial.

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