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Consolidated Shareholders Approve $2 Billion Takeover Offer From News Corp: Reuters

By | Tuesday October 30, 2012 @ 7:45pm PDT

Shareholders in Consolidated Media Holdings have given the green light to a $2 billion takeover offer from News Corp. The deal will double the stake of News Corp’s Australian dominant pay-TV platform Foxtel to 50 percent and give it 100 percent of content provider Fox Sports, Reuters reports. Consolidated Media’s board had backed the offer.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Tokyo, Zurich Festivals; News Corp’s Binding Bid

Tokyo Hosts ‘Trouble With The Curve’
Clint Eastwood-starrer Trouble With The Curve will close the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 28. Directed by frequent Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz, the film stars Eastwood as an aging baseball scout and Amy Adams as his estranged daughter. Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard and Robert Patrick also star. Warner Bros has set the U.S. release for September 21. The festival opens October 20 with Paramount’s 3D Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away, exec produced by James Cameron and directed by Andrew Adamson.

News Corp Presses Binding Offer
News Corp has moved to solidify its hold on Australian pay-TV platform Foxtel and the Fox Sports channels with a binding takeover bid for Consolidated Media Holdings. CMH owns 25% of Foxtel and 50% of Fox Sports. News is offering $A3.45 ($3.55) per share, valuing the company controlled by James Packer at $1.94 billion. That’s a bit less than News Corp’s non-binding cash offer made in June, but shareholders will receive a 6 cents per share dividend. Said Packer, exec chairman of 50% shareholder Consolidated Press Holdings: “This is a great outcome for CMH shareholders and for News and it reflects a fair price.” There was no immediate response from Seven Group Holdings, which has a 25.3% stake in CMH and has asked regulators whether it could buy the balance. A decision is due September 13. News owns 25% of Foxtel and the other 50% of Fox Sports. If the News deal proceeds it’s expected to close in November. Citi media analyst Justin Diddams told Deadline it’s unlikely the Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Group will make a counter-offer. -Don Groves
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Global Showbiz Briefs: Consolidated Media, ‘Making Of A Lady’, Pinewood, BBC

By | Tuesday August 28, 2012 @ 8:00pm PDT

Seven Group Still Undecided On News Corp.’ $2B Offer For Consolidated Media
In June, News Corp. launched a $2.1B bid for Consolidated Media Holdings, a 25% owner of pay-TV platform Foxtel and 50% owner of the Fox Sports channels, but Seven Group Holdings still hasn’t decided whether to sell its 25.3% stake in CMH. During an earnings report today, Seven Group chief executive Peter Gammell said News has yet to make a formal proposal and there would be no response until then. Gammell said the Seven Group’s request to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to review whether it could buy the balance of the shares in CMH did not mean the company would make a counter-offer, only that it wanted to know whether such a transaction would be approved. The ACCC will announce its decision on September 13. James Packer, who owns 50% of CMH, has said he will accept News’ bid in the absence of a higher offer. Seven Group reported today its net profit for fiscal 2012 more than doubled to $165.9M on revenues of $4.46B. But it wrote down by $483.5M the value of its investment in Seven West Media which owns the Seven Network, Pacific Magazines and West Australian Newspapers. The group also announced Ryan Stokes, son of the company’s chairman Kerry Stokes, has been appointed COO. – Don Groves

ITV Casts ‘The Making Of A Lady’
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Consolidated Media Expects $2.1B News Corp. Deal To Close In Six Weeks

By | Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 2:31am PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

consolidated media holdingsNews Corp.’s move to acquire James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings is nearing completion. Reporting revenues today, CMH said the deal should be finalized in six weeks, pending the completion of due diligence and approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. The Australian regulator cleared the deal earlier this month. News Corp. made its offer in June and via the acquisition is poised to increase its holdings in Foxtel, Oz’s leading pay-TV platform, from 25% to 50% and take full ownership of lucrative sports channels provider Fox Sports. Today, CMH reported a 15.6% fall in statutory net profit to $85.8M for the year to June, reflecting the costs of Foxtel’s takeover of regional satcaster Austar. Foxtel (excluding Austar) contributed $42M to CMH’s operating profit, up $4.4M on the prior year. Fox Sports contributed $49.4M, down $2.1M due to softer subscriber numbers and increased broadcasting costs. Foxtel had 1.68M subscribers at June 30, just 30,000 more than a year earlier. Combined with Austar’s subscribers, the total count was 2.3M. The company made no mention of a possible rival bid from Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings, which has a 24% stake in CMH and has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to review a proposal for Seven to acquire the balance of the shares.

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Australia Regulator Clears News Corp’s $2.1B Bid For Consolidated Media

By | Wednesday August 1, 2012 @ 11:07pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.

News Corp.’s $A2 billion ($2.1B) bid for James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings, which owns 25% of Australian pay-TV platform Foxtel and 50% of the Fox Sports channels, has been cleared by the government regulator. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it would not oppose the proposed acquisition, which would give News full ownership of the sports channels and boost its stake in Foxtel to 50%. “Given that News Corporation has no interests in other free-to-air or subscription TV entities in Australia,” agency chairman Rod Sims said, “the ACCC’s view is that this acquisition is unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market.” The ACCC is still assessing a possible counterbid for Packer’s CMH by Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings, which has a 24% stake in CMH. Packer has recommended shareholders accept News’ bid. Some media analysts believe a counter-offer from Seven is unlikely because News controls the management of Foxtel and Fox Sports and Packer prefers to sell to News.

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Stokes “Unlikely” To Try To Top News’ Bid For Consolidated Media

By | Monday June 25, 2012 @ 7:01pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.

If Kerry StokesSeven Group Holdings  is serious about lodging a counter bid for Consolidated Media Holdings, topping News Ltd.’s $A2 billion play for control of the Australian pay-TV investment company, many investors aren’t convinced. The share price of CMH is trading at $A3.41, below News’ offer of $3.50 for the firm which owns 25% of dominant pay-TV platform Foxtel and 50% of  the lucrative Fox Sports channels. “The share price hasn’t moved because  the market does not believe Stokes will make a higher bid,” one media analyst tells Deadline.  Stokes owns 24% of CMH, the second largest shareholder behind James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings which has 50.5%. The proposed deal, which Packer welcomed, would give  News full ownership of Fox Sports and 50% of Foxtel.  Two days after News revealed its bid,  Seven Group Holdings asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to review a proposal for Seven to acquire of all of the shares in CMH which it does not own.  The analyst noted that Stokes could afford the $1.5 billion-plus he’d need from the resources of Seven Group Holdings and related company Seven West Media to make a counter offer, but doubted that’s his intention as News controls the management of Foxtel and Fox Sports. Read More »

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Seven Group To Thwart News Corp’s $2Bn Bid For Consolidated Media?

Just days after News Corp made a $2Bn offer to buy James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings, the Oz regulator has revealed that a rival bid may be afoot. Billionaire Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings, which currently owns 24% of CMH, is “actively considering acquiring further shares” in the company, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said. It added that Seven asked the commission “to review a proposal to buy all of the shares in CMH which it does not currently own.” Earlier this week, Packer welcomed News Corp’s bid which would double Rupert Murdoch’s holdings in pay-TV platform Foxtel and give it full ownership of Fox Sports Australia. At the same time, Stokes’ Seven said it would review the News Corp proposal and consider its options. SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine tells Deadline that such a move by Stokes is not a surprise as “they’ve always been competitive.” He estimates that a bid from Seven could drive the price of CMH higher. “Even if Murdoch ends up with it, it does give some people joy to get the price up and make him bid up.” Sitting on $10.7Bn in cash, News Corp has been implementing COO Chase Carey’s strategy to “either own and operate or monetize” its assets. Among purchases it’s made since the company reluctantly aborted the BSkyB acquisition last year, is the recent buyout of Disney’s 50% stake in ESPN Star Sports. Analysts say … Read More »

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News Corp Purchase Of Consolidated Media Could Boost Earnings 2%, Analysts Predict

By | Wednesday June 20, 2012 @ 3:35pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.

News Corp’s $2 billion offer for James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings will boost News’ earnings per share by 2% in the 2014 fiscal year if the deal proceeds, according to media analysts at Goldman Sachs. Transaction would give News full ownership of Australia’s lucrative Fox Sports channels and increase its holdings in the dominant pay-TV platform Foxtel from 25% to 50%. Goldman Sachs noted the deal fits with chief operating officer Chase Carey’s strategy to “to either own and operate or monetize” its assets, illustrated by the recent buyout of Disney’s 50% stake in the Indian joint venture ESPN Star Sports, the acquisition of the 30% minority interest in Fox Pan American Sports and selling its 20% minority stake in Hathway cable in India. News Corp will easily fund the acquisition out of its $10.7 billion cash holding, the company said, adding that as it already has management control of Foxtel and Fox Sports, regulatory approval could be less of a hurdle than it otherwise might be. The broker has a buy rating on News stock.

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News Corp Offers $2 Billion To Buy Consolidated Media Holdings

By | Tuesday June 19, 2012 @ 6:40pm PDT

Freelance journalist Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

UPDATED: News Corp. is poised to strengthen its dominance of the Australian pay-TV industry after launching a $A1.97 billion bid to buy James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings. The deal, which Packer has welcomed, would increase News’ holdings in Foxtel, the leading pay-TV platform, from 25% to 50% and give it full ownership of the lucrative sports channels provider Fox Sports. Packer, who owns 50.1% of Consolidated Media, had flagged his intention to unload his media interests to focus on his casino empire which includes Melbourne’s Crown and Perth’s Burswood.  Packer could use the $1 billion windfall in his battle to wrest control of Echo Entertainment, which owns Sydney’s Star City Casino.  Packer said he welcomes News’ proposal, looks forward to working with News on the detailed terms and conditions, and that he considers the offer price of $3.50 per share as fair. The deal is subject to regulatory approval. Read More »

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