Saturday, January 15, 2005

Everybody's talkin'

Bit of a mixed approach today to Fairfax's mooted takeover of Ten.

The SMH acknowledges that the Fairfax board will consider the question:

"John Fairfax directors will meet on Monday to thrash out the viability of a bid for the Ten Network and what that would mean for the publisher's succession plans."
A piece by the same writer, Wendy Frew, in The Age hedges its bets:

"Rumours continued yesterday that John Fairfax Holdings was trying to buy a 57.5 per cent stake in Ten Network Holdings for up to $1 billion from Ten's major shareholder, Canadian company CanWest Global Communications Corp. Executives from Fairfax and CanWest were unavailable for comment, but it is believed the most likely option would be an equity swap."
The Australian Financial Review took the big picture approach looking at the broader media landscape where a number of companies are jostling for leverage positions in anticipation of legislation changes later in the year. The Fin is a subscription-only site, but has a longish piece by Katrina Nicholas outlining the complex picture that will be filled in over the next year or so.

Basically, Fairfax and Ten - and you'd expect PBL and News are running numbers on a range of possibilities - are trying to get an opening advantage by reaching an agreement on a deal before any changes to the legislation are decided, and they're banking on that decision being favourable. Given the sums involved it's hefty bet.

As one investment banker put it: "Everyone is talking to everyone ... but nothing is concrete."

Former Fairfax journalist Jane Schultz has a fairly comprehensive roundup of the issues. She also throws in a piece speculating on who might succeed Fred Hilmer as CEO of Fairfax. It includes this odd sentence about the subject, Doug Flynn:
"He is believed to have told some disbelieving associates he was once offered the top job at Telecom New Zealand before it finally went to Theresa Gattung."
So, who believed what?

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