March 19, 2020 / 8:00 AM / 14 days ago

Bidders express interest in Australian news agency AAP

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Potential bidders have expressed interest in Australian Associated Press, the domestic news agency that announced earlier this month it would shut its doors in June, AAP Chief Executive Bruce Davidson said on Thursday.

“We’ve had approaches from a number of interested parties. There have been no bids made. We’re just entering discussions,” Davidson told Reuters.

He declined to say how many parties had expressed interest, but said he believed they were all Australian.

AAP, advised by TMT Partners, will on Friday seek responses from the interested parties within 14 to 21 days, he said.

AAP’s board and shareholders, led by Nine Entertainment Co (NEC.AX) and the Australian arm of News Corp (NWSA.O), have said any approaches should be taken seriously.

Staff were told earlier in the day about the approaches but were told to be “very cautious” about the talks.

“It’s by no means guaranteed. It may come to nothing,” Davidson said.

The 85-year-old wire service, which has provided firsthand reports and breaking news covering politics, courts, business and sports, said on March 3 it would close its news production and sub-editing businesses from June after losing its battle to compete with free online publishers.

About 180 jobs are at stake, however Nine and News Corp have said they would take some AAP staff.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin

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