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Discovery ‘exits Ten takeover talks’

Discovery Communications has pulled out of talks to buy Australian commercial channel Network Ten, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Discovery had partnered with Australian pay TV platform Foxtel to buy the for-sale broadcaster, whose financial situation is precarious as things stand. Discovery would have held 85.01%, with Foxtel taking just under 15%.

However, the AFR reported that Ten’s board had asked Discovery to buy just 14.99% of the firm and take a seat on its board, as Ten shareholders Bruce Gordon and Lazard Asset Management had opposed a takeover.

This would have allowed Gordon to double his holding, currently standing at 14.99%, as long as media laws were relaxed to allow cross-media ownership. Gordon owns regional broadcaster WIN and therefore hamstrung in his own attempts to control Ten.

Discovery had also lowered its original A26¢ a share offer to A23¢ after concerns over Ten’s financial arrangements. It has now walked away as it had no interest in the board’s offer, or in handing Gordon more control.

Ten called in investment bank Citi to consider several potential takeover offers last November.

Today, Ten Network Holdings released a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange again referring to a variety of “transaction proposals which vary in type and value and remain confidential, non-binding and conditional in nature”.

These discussions were continuing “and may or may not result in a transaction which is acceptable to Ten”, it said.