Australia's Ten Network Silent on Takeover Deal

Hamish McLennan H

The broadcaster's board is still assessing bids

Two weeks after Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings received takeover bids for the company, there was no update on any deal, Ten chairman Hamish McLennan told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

A joint bid by Discovery Communications and Australian pay TV group Foxtel, owned by News Corp and telco Telstra, valuing Ten at $485 million (AUS$595 million), is reportedly the frontrunner in any auction for the company.

“On December 3, we advised that [investment bank] Citi had received non-binding, conditional proposals from a number of parties in relation to transactions which, if implemented, could result in a change of control of Ten or a refinancing of its existing debt facilities,” McLennan said.

“An independent committee of the board of Ten is considering those proposals in conjunction with Citi. It should be noted that the proposals are confidential, non-binding and conditional in nature, and may or may not result in a transaction which is acceptable to the company,” McLennan said.

Read more Australia's Ten Network Reviewing Several Takeover Bids

Director Brian Long, who chairs the independent committee assessing the bids, added: “We’re currently considering our position. We haven’t reached a stage where we can make an announcement, and there’s no guarantee or commitment that anything will happen”.

Ten announced in November that it had appointed Citigroup to advise and assess strategic options for the company. As well as the Discovery-Foxtel bid, other bids are believed to have come from Haim Saban's Saban Capital Group, which is being advised by former Nine Network CEO Jeffrey Browne and other U.S.- based financial firms. It is believed Ten wants a resolution to the process by Christmas.

According to a report in News Corp newspaper The Australian on Wednesday, Ten’s board is wanting at least 20.4 cents a share for a takeover of the company, valuing it at $527 million. That’s still below the $627 million Ten and its advisors, Citigroup, were originally seeking but above the 18 cents a share Foxtel and Discovery have bid.

Read more Time Warner Reportedly Drops Out of Auction for Australia's Ten Network

Ten’s shares are currently trading just below 17 cents.

Foxtel and Discovery are reportedly the frontrunners to take over the ailing broadcaster, which this year reported a loss of $137 million in its full-year results.

McLennan said Ten will update shareholders when required to do so by the Australian Securities Exchange.