September 11, 2017 / 4:35 AM / 3 months ago

CBS paying at least $162 million cash for Australia's Ten Network

SYDNEY (Reuters) - CBS Corp CBS.N will pay at least A$201.1 million ($162 million) in cash to buy Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings TEN.AX, according to documents released on Monday by Ten’s administrator.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of Network Ten Pty Ltd is displayed above the company's headquarters in Sydney, Australia, April 24, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

CBS, the United States’ most-watched television network, said it agreed to buy Ten last month, without disclosing a price.

But Ten’s administrator released financial details of the deal on Monday as the company fends off a court challenge from a rival bidder - a consortium led by Lachlan Murdoch, co-chair of News Corp NWSA.O. The deal is paused while the court case is heard.

The youth-focused broadcaster with a national reach and strong brand became a tempting target as its market capitalisation plunged to just A$58 million in June, when it was placed in administration under a mountain of debt.

In a court case filed last week, Murdoch’s business partner, Bruce Gordon, accused administrator KordaMentha of failing to give creditors enough information about why the CBS bid was preferred.

In response, KordaMentha published details of the deal, including the price tag “estimated at a minimum of A$201.1 million” in cash, and a table showing that most unsecured creditors receive higher payouts under the CBS arrangement.

“The CBS proposal was superior to the Birketu and Illyria proposal for creditors generally,” KordaMentha said in a separate press release, referring to the private companies of Gordon and Murdoch, respectively.

CBS is Ten’s largest creditor.

Fellow creditor Twenty-First Century Fox FOXA.O, where Murdoch is also executive chairman, received a slightly higher payout under the Gordon-Murdoch proposal, the documents show.

KordaMentha said Fox had applied to join the court challenge to the deal, which is scheduled for hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gordon’s lawyers did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Fox’s Australian office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Murdoch declined to comment.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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