Independent Newspapers SA could face more job cuts this year as parent
company Independent News and Media Group struggles to pay off its debt, writes Zweli Mokgata in The Times..

Gavin O’Reilly gave his first report yesterday as chairman of Australian media company, APN News and Media, after being recently appointed as chief executive of Independent News and Media.

O’Reilly said APN would benefit from government stimulus packages, and that markets in the short term would remain difficult. He said that if advertising and credit markets did not deteriorate further, the company’s profit would be kept under control.

He was speaking on the back on last week’s announcement by Independent in Ireland that it might not be able to repay a € 200-million bond that is due to mature on May 18.

In its statement it said: “While the group was compliant with banking covenants … the continued difficult trading conditions within which the group is currently operating means there is now a strong likelihood of a breach of the financial covenant within the group’s facilities during 2009.”

The group , which has operations in five countries, including South Africa where it owns several publications such as The Star, Pretoria News and The Cape Argus, reported net losses of € 159.4-million for the year.

It reported that group revenue fell by 11.76 percent to € 1.47-billion for the year ended December 2008.

South African operations fell 9.5 percent to R2.4-billion. Although the group did not mention job cuts, rumours have been circulating that an estimated 20 percent of staff fac e retrenchment at the local Independent Newspapers offices.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Times's website.