Fairfax Media shares are surging on reported private equity interest

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Shares in Fairfax Media jumped after a report of interest from private equity in the US.

A short time ago, they were up 5.8% to $0.90.

The Australian newspaper says a US-based fund is said to be sounding out senior executives in the Australasian media industry about an acquisition of Fairfax Media’s Australian assets.

“There have been approaches in the market to at least one party by a fund about buying the Australian arm of Fairfax Media, according to a source, who said the entity was based in Los Angeles and had a presence in Australia,” the newspaper reports.

Credit Suisse has Fairfax as a top pick for 2017, expecting the media group to this year formally announce its plans to stop printing the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age during the week and move to a weekday digital-only model.

“We believe that FXJ is committed to reducing its print exposure and 2017 could be a year of significant progress,” writes Credit Suisse analyst Fraser McLeish.

The analyst says this would unlock value in Fairfax’s successful online property classifieds business Domain.

“We expect Domain growth to re-accelerate driven by easing listing headwinds and price increases,” McLeish writes in a note to clients.

Fairfax is in the process of merging its New Zealand assets with those formerly held by APN and is reviewing its regional media business, with one possibility being to take a partner.

Credit Suisse rates the stock as outperform with a target price of $1.10.

* Disclosure: Allure Media, the publisher of Business Insider, is 100% owned by Fairfax Media.

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