News Corp’s Foxtel picks up 15% stake in Ten Network for $59 million

MUMBAI: Australia based Ten Network is planning to sell a 15 per cent stake in itself to Foxtel, which is half owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Telstra Corp Ltd.

Foxtel will acquire the stake in the loss-making company for $59 million (A$77 million) at A$0.15 each, which is a 43 per cent discount to its closing price on Friday. Additionally, the company is also looking at raising another A$77 million with a rights issue.

Ten Network will utilise the new capital of up to A$154 million to reduce debt and provide additional financial flexibility. The proceeds of the capital raisings will be used initially to repay the drawn amount under the existing Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) revolving cash advance facility, with any excess funds initially retained as cash. The $200 million CBA facility will continue to be available to fund Ten's ongoing operations, which will be utilised for working capital, payment of transaction-related expenses, selected investment in content and general corporate purposes.

As a result of this deal, a Foxtel representative will join the Board of Ten, which will be reduced in size to six directors.

Additionally, the deal also includes Ten taking a 24.99 per cent stake in Foxtel’s advertising business Multi Channel Network (MCN) and the option to become a 10 per cent shareholder in Foxtel’s subscription video on-demand service Presto TV. The deal is subject to approval by various regulatory authorities.

MCN will be the ad sales representative of Ten television and digital advertising inventory and will start selling its ad inventory from 1 September, 2015.

Ten executive chairman and CEO Hamish McLennan said, “Today's announcement represents an important milestone for Ten and the conclusion of the strategic review process initiated by the Board last year. It positions Ten to drive long-term value for shareholders. The Board believes the agreements with Foxtel and MCN will materially enhance Ten’s business and better equip it to respond to the challenges of the ever-changing media and advertising landscape. We welcome Foxtel’s proposed investment and we are confident this proposal will drive value for all of Ten’s shareholders. By joining forces with MCN, Ten will gain new efficiencies, improved data capability and provide broader integration opportunities for its advertising clients.”

“The combined sales operation will provide advertisers a new way to reach consumers across all video conTent distribution platforms. Ten’s ratings and revenue performance has materially improved this year as a result of a clear focus on our core audience of people aged 25 to 54, and a disciplined and selective investment in content. Our total prime time primary channel audience has increased 18 per cent this year,” McLennan added.

“Our Chief Sales Officer, Louise Barrett, and her team have done an outstanding job growing Ten’s revenue base, capitalising on much improved audience numbers. The advertising sales representation arrangement with MCN is a step change and will enable us to further leverage our growing audience with enhanced scale and a broader, more targeted and efficient offering,” he said.

Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein added, “We believe our proposed investment in Ten is a win-win for Ten and Foxtel. With Foxtel’s local knowledge and expertise, and MCN delivering synergies and improved advertiser access, we are confident that this proposal delivers a robust long term solution for a revitalised, competitive and profitable Ten.”

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