From The Age today they report the latest developments surrounding the buyout of APN ( AUSTRALIAN RADIO NETWORK) by Independent News & Media. Full story follows:

VINTAGE director Ted Harris had time for one champagne on Sunday night to celebrate the increased offer he secured for APN News & Media, before hurrying home to watch the cricket.

But APN’s deputy chairman and head of the independent committee assessing the $3.8 billion bid from a consortium led by its major shareholder, Independent News & Media, may have popped the cork too soon.

John Sevior, head of equities at Perpetual Investments, which owns almost 15 per cent of APN, believes the revised $6.10-a-share offer is too low.

“On the basis of what’s out there, I don’t think the independent directors have done a flash job for shareholders,” Mr Sevior told The Age.

“This is a bid for full control of the company and (the consortium) are not paying a price that reflects that, especially given APN’s earnings profile.”

Mr Harris, for his part, believes he has secured a good price. He is quick to point out that before the consortium first approached the company last October, its shares were trading at $5.43.

Twice during the week he rebuffed the consortium, which is made up of Independent, Providence Equity Partners and Carlyle Group, before finally agreeing to recommend an offer of $6.10 a share over the weekend. (He rejected two offers of $6.05 and $6.08 on Tuesday and Wednesday.) After the second rebuff, he says the negotiations, which were being led on the other side by Tony O’Reilly’s son Gavin, almost broke down.

“My principle concern is that shareholders understand, if this offer is not voted by shareholders as acceptable, the price will fall away appreciably,” Mr Harris said yesterday.

Shares in APN closed down 7¢ at $5.98 yesterday as investors do believe there is a risk the offer will not pass a shareholder vote.

Under the proposed deal, Independent would reduce its holding in APN from more than 40 per cent to 35 per cent, taking up to $600 million off the table. Providence and Carlyle would own 37.5 per cent and 27.5 per cent respectively. The management team, including chief executive Brendan Hopkins, would be retained. Mr Harris said there had been no discussion of the make-up of the new board.

APN has agreed to pay the consortium a break fee of $27.5 million if it recommends or solicits another offer. But that is unlikely, as Independent has indicated it will not sell its shares into another offer.

APN publishes 24 daily newspapers including The New Zealand Herald and more than 90 non-daily titles.

It also owns 12 metropolitan radio stations in Australia, broadcasting the Mix and Classic Hits networks.

The company, which reports its results next week, said it estimated its 2006 earnings before interest, tax and depreciation would be $348 million, although that figure is unaudited.