CBS takeover of Australian TV network gets court okay


Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 10

A bid by US broadcaster CBS Corp to buy Australia’s third-largest commercial television network yesterday cleared a key legal hurdle when judges rejected a move by three shareholders to block the sale.

Creditors and staff had backed the CBS proposal to take over the embattled Ten Network Holdings Ltd, which went into administration in June, despite a rival offer from media mogul Lachlan Murdoch and another Australian TV titan.

The New South Wales Supreme Court ruled in favor of the deal struck with administrators in August, with Justice Ashley Black stating there was “no prejudice, and no unfair prejudice” with the transfer of Ten Network shares to CBS.

“I am therefore satisfied that the court ... grant leave to the deed administrators to transfer [Ten Network] shares to CBS Australia’s nominee,” Black said in his decision.

Three minor Ten Network shareholders had mounted the challenge to the deal, which had already been green-lighted by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

Administrator KordaMentha said it would not transfer the Ten Network shares before 5pm on Tuesday, allowing the shareholders to lodge a possible appeal.

Yesterday’s ruling ends a months-long battle for Ten Network, which has been on air since 1962 and broadcasts shows such as “I’m a Celebrity.”

The next step is approval from the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, for the share transfer. That approval could come as early as Wednesday.

The network struggled with slumping advertising revenues and went into voluntary administration after Murdoch and regional TV owner Bruce Gordon refused a key loan.

Murdoch, the son of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, and Gordon later made bids for Ten Network through their investment companies Illyria Nominees Television Pty Ltd and Birketu Pty Ltd, but the CBS offer was favored by KordaMentha.

A takeover by Illyria and Birketu became viable last month after the Australian government passed controversial changes to media laws allowing ownership across multiple platforms.