Australian TV station Ten in administration after Murdoch-led backers quit

Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:30am EDT
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By Byron Kaye and Jamie Freed

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian television broadcaster Ten Network Ltd (TEN.AX: Quote) called in administrators on Wednesday after creditors including Lachlan Murdoch pulled a debt guarantee and outlined plans to restructure the youth-focused free-to-air broadcaster.

Administrators were appointed after the private companies of News Corp NSWA.O co-chairman Murdoch and regional TV boss Bruce Gordon declined to extend support for a debt facility past 2017, the network said in a statement.

Sydney-based Ten said the unusual move would help it re-negotiate costly content licensing fees with U.S. production studios like CBS Corp (CBS.N: Quote), and added that its directors "regret very much that these circumstances have come to pass".

Murdoch and Gordon had "agreed to work together exclusively to facilitate the potential formulation, negotiation and implementation of a restructure proposal", they said in a regulatory filing to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Murdoch and Gordon, who jointly control about 22 percent of Ten's shares, had not yet agreed on terms of that proposal, it added.

Administrators Mark Korda, Jenny Nettleton and Jarrod Villani, from KordaMentha, said in a statement they were "confident that the network is an attractive asset which will find a buyer or will be capitalised".

They did not name a potential buyer.

Pay-TV company Foxtel, which owns 14 percent of Ten, has long been touted as its most likely buyer, although that would be stopped by current media ownership restrictions. Foxtel declined comment.   Continued...

The logo of Network Ten Pty Ltd which is displayed above the company's headquarters in Sydney, Australia, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore