NEWSPAPERMAN turned ABC finance guru and entrepreneur Alan Kohler wore special cufflinks around his Melbourne office yesterday.
''On the left hand my cufflink says 'buy'; on the right hand it says 'sell','' Mr Kohler told BusinessDay.
According to a letter to staff, Mr Kohler's media upstart Australian Independent Business Media had received an offer ''it couldn't refuse''. AIBM - publisher of business site Business Spectator and investment publication Eureka Report - will be sold to News Limited for $30 million cash.
Launched in 2007 just before the financial crisis, Business Spectator had 480,000 unique browsers last month. Eureka Report, founded by Mr Kohler seven years ago, has 15,500 subscribers and generated the bulk of last year's reported $8.84 million revenue.
''It's been fantastic to have built a business that's valuable and it's valued by its readers and its clients; it's really satisfying,'' Mr Kohler said.
Mr Kohler will retain his ABC job and continue as editor-in-chief of Business Spectator and Eureka Report under a four-year contract with News. Columnists and shareholders Stephen Bartholomeusz, Robert Gottliebsen and James Kirby will also join News.
Beyond Mr Kohler's 28 per cent stake, other AIBM shareholders include Eric Beecher, chairman of media company Private Media (with an estimated 16 per cent), and businessmen Mark Carnegie and John Wylie (about 36 per cent).
Mr Kohler said it was not yet clear how Business Spectator would fit into News. Paywalls could be on the cards. Mr Kohler said the deal would not lead to a change in editorial direction, particularly at its smaller Climate Spectator site.
''The News Limited attitude towards climate change will not influence what we write,'' he said.
None of AIBM's 43 employees would lose their jobs, Mr Kohler said. Staff will share $200,000 in bonuses from the spoils.
Mr Kohler said he had considered Fairfax Media, owner of BusinessDay, as the natural owner of his company but this ''didn't turn out to be true'' after the companies failed to agree on price.
Roger Colman, media director at CCZ Statton Equities, said News wanted to use Business Spectator's readership to eat into Fairfax's Australian Financial Review.