Stuff CEO Sinead Boucher buys the company for $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased the company from Nine Entertainment, following a failed takeover attempt by New Zealand media company NZME.

Boucher bought it for $1, returning the outlet to local ownership. The sale is expected to be completed by May 31.

As reported by Stuff, the Australia-based Nine Entertainment will retain ownership of Stuff's Petone printing plant site and lease it back to the outlet. It will also receive an immediate and ongoing cut of the proceeds from the sale of Stuff Fibre to Vocus, which was announced on May 14.

"As a result of the successful completion of the Stuff Fibre sale on 20 May 2020, Nine will receive 25 percent of those proceeds before completion of the Stuff sale, plus up to a further 75 percent over the subsequent 36 months, depending on the Stuff business' ability to raise funding," Nine said in a statement to the ASX.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks said the company always believed in the importance of local ownership, describing the sale as the "best outcome for competition and consumers in New Zealand".

As the sale is a management buyout, the purchase is not expected to need approval from the Commerce Commission.

The buyout follows a tense back-and-forth between Nine and NZME, which owns the likes of Newstalk ZB and the New Zealand Herald. Negotiations between the two were terminated by Nine in early May. It's understood the Australian network called off the talks after realising NZME's bid for a merger with Stuff would not be approved by the Commerce Commission within an acceptable time frame. 

On Tuesday last week, it was revealed that the High Court had refused to grant NZME an interim injunction that would have forced Nine back into an exclusive negotation period regarding the website's sale. 

Following the refusal, NZME announced it had abandoned its bid to buy Stuff, withdrawing its application to the Commerce Commission seeking permission for the purchase.

Boucher said Monday marks an "important moment" for the business. 

"It is great to take control of our own future with the move to local ownership and the opportunity to build further on the trust of New Zealanders, who turn to us for local and national news and entertainment every day," she said, as reported by the outlet.

"We are looking forward to working closely with staff, customers and our audiences as we embark upon what we believe will be a great new era for the business and the independent journalism it is built on."

In a statement, she said a plan is underway to transition the ownership of Stuff to give "staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders".

"Stuff is in a great position to enable future success. We have trusted platforms, a significant audience, and our pre-COVID-19 performance was strong," she said.

"Our people, who have endured the question mark around Stuff's future ownership for a number of years, now have certainty and I know they are ready to focus on creating the next chapter for the business and ensuring a sustainable future for local journalism."

The CEO kicked off her career as a journalist for The Press before working for the Financial Times and Reuters in London. She became Stuff's first digital editor and played an imperative role in growing the website. She was awarded the top individual prize in New Zealand journalism, the Wolfson Fellowship, in 2012. She was appointed chief executive in August 2017 after four years as executive editor.

In addition to, Stuff owns Wellington's The Dominion Post, The Press in Christchurch, The Waikato Times, Sunday-Star Times, Neighbourly and TV Guide.