Murdoch and Gordon flag takeover of Ten

Ten Network’s billionaire shareholders Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon have signalled their intention to take over the besieged network, seeking a review of a joint bid from the competition regulator.

Murdoch and Gordon, through their respective investment vehicles Illyria and Birketu, have sought an informal review of a joint bid for Ten from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Ten was placed in receivership on Monday after going into administration in June and Mr Gordon and Mr Murdoch, along with casino mogul James Packer, are guaranteeing a $30 million finance package that keeps the network running until the end of August.

The billionaire shareholder trio had previously guaranteed a $200 million debt facility for Ten.

Any changes to media law that would allow Murdoch and Gordon to bid for Network Ten are on hold until Parliament resumes on August 8.

The ACCC will seek submissions up until July 24, and expects to issue a decision or list its concerns by August 24.

“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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“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.”

Murdoch is co-chairman of News Corp, which owns major daily newspapers including The Advertiser and a 50 per cent stake in Foxtel, and he is the owner of the NOVA Entertainment radio network, which also runs talk station FIVEaa in Adelaide.

He is prevented from having control of radio, newspaper and television assets in the one market under current media laws.

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Gordon owns the regional WIN Television network, and control of Ten would put him in breach of the ‘reach rule’ that prevents access to more than 75 per cent of the population.

Sims said the ACCC’s review does not mean the proposed takeover raises competition concerns, but that further consideration is required for the watchdog to reach a view.

– with AAP

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