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Bidders looking to trim down AAP newswire

A group of investors and philanthropists looking to save Australian Associated Press expects to cut jobs at the national newswire.

Peter Tonagh, who is leading the consortium, believes shareholders News Corp Australia and Nine could return as customers to a trimmed-down version of AAP, but concedes it could take 10 years.

“If we can do a good enough job with AAP, it should be attractive to all players in the industry,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Mr Tonagh said the primary focus of the consortium was the newswire service, describing it as a critical element of AAP.

The bidders are also interested in the company’s fact-checking unit and photography desk.

There are reports the consortium could slash the number of editorial staff from 147 to 72.

“I think there are unfortunately likely to be job losses,” Mr Tonagh said.

He said the final outcome would depend on negotiations with the AAP board and how much money the consortium raised.

The potential owners are most interested in covering courts, sport, state and federal politics and regional news.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims doesn’t expect any positive sale offer to be rejected by AAP shareholders, but if it was, he would investigate at the issue.

Mr Tonagh said he was comforted by the competition watchdog’s observation of the sale process.

“From our perspective our only view is we have to do all we can,” he said.

It was announced in March that News and Nine were withdrawing from the newswire and it would be shut down on June 26.

It means about 180 jobs will be lost from the company’s editorial operation and hundreds more from subsidiaries.

AAP is owned by Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media.

It has supplied articles to regional, national and global newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital editions in various forms since 1935. It also is a major supplier of news and sport photography.

Other members of the consortium include Fred Woollard, managing director of Samuel Terry Asset Management and Kylie Charlton, managing director of Australian Impact Investments.

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