Troubled TV broadcaster Ten Network is at the centre of takeover talks, with speculation the company is set to receive an offer.
Ten has hired investment bank Citi to investigate a range of strategic options, with the spotlight immediately turning to one of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian operations as the interested party.
“TEN notes that while a number of potential strategic options have been considered to date, there is no guarantee any transaction will eventuate,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Fresh takeover speculation began swirling around Ten on Wednesday, with pay TV operator Foxtel and US cable giant Discovery tipped to be considering a joint bid.
Discovery and Foxtel, which is half-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, have been asked by the loss-making free-to-air broadcaster to submit preliminary non-binding proposals soon, the Australian Financial Review’s website reported.
Under the deal being considered by the pair, Foxtel would emerge with a 14.9 per cent stake in Ten.
A spokesmen for Foxtel refused to comment on the speculation.
Ten has also recently been the subject of speculation about a merger with Fairfax Media.
But analysts believe such a merger would have major hurdles to clear, including asset sales to meet media ownership laws.
Ownership overhaul necessary
Fairfax Media chairman Roger Corbett used the company’s annual general meeting today to call upon the federal government to overhaul what he describes as “archaic media ownership” laws.
“Ownership restrictions currently in place in Australia are outdated and outmoded by technical change and shifts in how consumers now source their news and information,” Mr Corbett told shareholders.
“We believe there needs to be decisive leadership shown by the government on this important issue.”
Mr Corbett said current laws restricted the modern media industry and was failing Australian consumers.
Maintaining the status quo was not good enough for most of the industry and Australian consumers and should not be good enough for the Australian government, he said.
Mr Corbett said there would be an inevitable disinvestment in the sector if the legislation were not changed.
“Abolishing the reach rules, and the two-out-of-three rule which stops anyone owning more than two of a newspaper, commercial TV or radio licence in a major market would reset the competitive base for a modern media industry.”