Independent News and Media (INM), owner of the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, has accepted a takeover offer by a Belgian media group for £125.7 million.
Under the terms of the acquisition, INM shareholders will receive 10.5 cents (9p) per share.
The Belgian company, Mediahuis, is a private European group that was founded in 2013.
INM is Ireland’s largest media group and owns titles in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland including the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, the Herald, Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life and the Sunday World. It also has a 50% holding in the Irish Daily Star.
Mediahuis currently employs more than 3,200 people and reported a turnover of £707.2m last year.
Its brands include De Telegraaf, NRC Handelsblad, NRC Next, De Limburger and Noordhollands Dagblad, with newspaper sales of almost 900,000.
In the Republic of Ireland, INM accounts for more than 50% of the daily market and over 65% of the Sunday market.
It has its headquarters in Dublin, employs an average of 800 people, and had revenues of £164.9m in the last financial year.
INM chairman Murdoch MacLennan said: “We are pleased to be announcing this transaction today and believe it represents an excellent outcome for both the company and its shareholders.
“The offer from Mediahuis represents a compelling opportunity for shareholders to realise cash for their shareholding in INM, at a price which fairly reflects the company’s performance and standalone prospects.
“INM has a proud and illustrious history stretching back to the start of the 20th century and the INM board believes that this offer from Mediahuis, if approved, will herald an exciting new chapter for our employees, readership and customers.
“Mediahuis already has a strong track record in newspaper and digital media development in Europe, which we feel will provide INM with the best opportunity to achieve its strategic objectives, while continuing to enable it to deliver journalism of the highest quality to the island of Ireland and our readers abroad.”
Gert Ysebaert, chief executive of Mediahuis, said: “We believe that there is a clear rationale for the acquisition and that INM will thrive under Mediahuis’ ownership.
“Furthermore, Mediahuis can contribute the relevant experience, skills and resources to invest in INM’s brands and significantly enhance its operational and digital capabilities.
“Underpinned by our unreserved belief in independent and quality journalism, we are optimistic about the combination of Mediahuis and INM and its potential contribution to the Irish media landscape.”