APN has appointed long-serving board member Peter Cosgrove as its chairman.

Mr Cosgrove, who has been on the board for more than nine years, has strong ties to APN’s largest shareholder  Independent News & Media (INM) which triggered a boardroom exodus earlier today after it rejected plans for a capital raising later this week.

The company is still without a CEO following the resignation of Brett Chenoweth, but speculation has grown that APN director Vincent Crowley - currently chief executive of INM - will return to APN as CEO after more than a decade’s absence.

Other names in the mix include former Fairfax CEO Brian McCarthy who took an advisory role at APN last year.

The debt laden media group is in disarray after major shareholders, Independent News and Media (INM) and Allan Gray, effectively ejected most of APN’s board, along with chief executive Brett Chenoweth, over a proposed capital raising scheduled for this week.

APN shares were pummelled today, with the stock down as much as 15 per cent to a low of 25.5 cents when a trading halt was lifted and APN announced the capital raising was being abandoned and most of its board was jumping ship.

Analysts at Citi said they expect that, in the absence of senior management, ‘‘we expect little affirmative action on business transformation at the group level for at least 12 months.’’

Asset disposals, or a miracle recovery for the media sector, are now the only options for APN which has debts estimated at $470 million with $400 million of this maturing in the 2015 financial year, according to UBS.

"Outdoor and radio are feasible assets to sell and APN may have to accept a less than desirable multiple for these businesses," Credit Suisse said in a research note today.

INM - which is in talks with its banks over mounting debts - announced it has reached a tentative agreement to sell its had reached initial agreement to sell its South African publishing business for €170 million.

INM is not expected to be a in a position to support a capital raising at present, and would face a massive dilution of its 30 per cent stake.

*In an earlier version of this story we mistakingly wrote that the former Defence Force chief Peter Cosgrove had been appointed. This is not the case - the new chairman has the same name but is not the retired Australian Army officer.