Billionaires Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon are pushing ahead with plans to take control of the free-to-air Ten Network which went into voluntary administration last month.
Consumer watchdog the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has confirmed it has a request from the private holding companies of the two: Murdoch’s Illyria Nominees and Gordon’s Birketu.
The ACCC expects to respond by August 2 after taking submissions. The deal, for 50% of the network, would need the federal parliament to pass the media reform bill.
“While this transaction is dependent upon the passage of the media reform bill, it is appropriate that the ACCC begin its review of the proposed transaction that has been put to us by the parties,” says ACCC chairman Rod Sims.
““The ACCC will assess the potential effect upon advertisers and upon competition within free-to-air television and between free-to-air television and Foxtel, particularly in relation to sport, given the holdings of the main players involved.
“However, an ACCC investigation does not mean that the transaction raises competition concerns, but that further consideration is required for the ACCC to reach a view.”
The current rules prevent anyone controlling newspaper, radio and television assets in the one market.
Murdoch is co-chair of News Corp, the owner of a national daily and state capital newspapers and a half share in cable provider Foxtel. He also has the NOVA Entertainment radio network.
Gordon owns the WIN Television network.
This week the newly appointed receivers of the Ten Network secured $30 million in funding to keep Ten afloat, for the time being.
Christopher Hill, Philip Carter and David McEvoy of PPB Advisory were appointed receivers and managers of Ten Network Holdings on Friday.
The receivers negotiated an amendment and restatement of Ten’s existing finance facility agreement, with continuing support from shareholder guarantors, to a $30 million package, which is available until the end of August.
The appointment of receivers followed the appointment of Mark Korda, Jenny Nettleton and Jarrod Villani of KordaMentha as voluntary administrators on June 14.
Ten went into administration when the Murdoch and Gordon refused to increase or extend a $200 million credit facility past December.
The company in April posted a loss of $232.19 million for the half year in a tough advertising market. At that time, the company said the current debt facility was drawn down by about $66.2 million.