Observer's publisher goes bust under financial pressure

The Weekly Observer's publisher is suffering financial difficulties.
The Weekly Observer's publisher is suffering financial difficulties.

EVANS Publishing, which until last week published Gympie's free newspaper, the Weekly Observer, is in liquidation, reportedly owing about $2 million.

A spokesman for the liquidators, Wilson Zeng, said last week the sale of the Evans' mastheads was still being finalised and more details would be announced within a few weeks.

But it now seems the Armidale publishing group, headed by Brad Evans, did not own the Observer and was publishing it under licence from Independent Publishing Australia, headed by another Armidale businessman, Scott Williams.

Until a week before Evans Publishing went into liquidation, Mr Evans was reported to be a director of Independent Publishing Australia and on that date Mr Williams, who moved to Noosa in March, replaced him as a director.

The Observer is now being published under licence by IPA Operations Pty Ltd and Mr Williams said this week it would be business as usual under the new publishing agreement.

"Evans Publishing never owned the Observer - it was owned by Independent Publishing Australia and published under licence," he said.

The only change is the licensed publisher.

The Weekly Observer is still listed on the Evans Publishing website as one of the company's publications.

But all ties with the now-insolvent company have supposedly been severed and Mr Williams will be in Gympie this week visiting his Gympie publication.

He is a high-profile businessman and a former deputy chancellor of the University of New England.

Australian Securities and Investment Commission records show Independent Publishing Australia was registered last year and based in Armidale at the same address as the Armidale Independent, the parent publication in the Evans Publishing group.

Evans Family Investments was listed as a major shareholder.

For a number of months, Mr Williams was the CEO of Evans Publishing and became involved after the Evans group went into voluntary receivership.

He subsequently stepped down as the Evans Publishing chief executive.

Brad Evans resumed that role several months ago.

Evans Publishing owed more than $2 million when it went into voluntary receivership, with contractors, staff and the Australian Taxation Office among the creditors.

It is believed most of those involved will see little or nothing of what they are owed, but Mr Williams said this week he believed the outstanding staff entitlements and some of its creditors would be paid.

Topics:  business finance liquidation media

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