CME founder Lauder to sell Channel 10 stake

Ronald Lauder is reportedly selling his stake in Israeli commercial free TV station Channel 10 – a move that will allow the network to qualify for a new broadcasting licence.

Israeli’s news sources are reporting Lauder, who is heir to the Estée Lauder cosmetics empire and the founder of Central European Media Enterprises, is selling his majority 30% stake to advertising firm Gimel Yafit. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

American born Lauder has reportedly invested up to US$500 million in the channel in his decade as a shareholder but has been forced to sell in order to allow Channel 10 to reapply for its free TV broadcasting licence, as new rules dictate more than 51% of shareholders must be Israeli.

Local paper Haaretz reported Lauder had been locked in a “battle of wills” with another billionaire Channel 10 shareholder, Israeli-American film producer Arnon Milchan, over the network, a dispute that has threatened the channel’s future.

Milchan has reportedly claimed Lauder agreed to cover any investment he made in the firm but subsequently reneged on the deal.

Milchan has been holding out on approving an application to extend Channel 10’s broadcasting licence beyond next year as a result but should Lauder’s stake go to Gimel Yafit, his blessing would not be needed.

In recent months, Milchan acquired Rupert Murdoch’s stake in Channel 10 for around US$6 million.

Channel 10 has been losing a ratings war with Channel 2, which Keshet Broadcasting and Reshet both operate through, and has made a series of losses, Haaretz reported.

Keshet has become one of the world’s leading content suppliers by creating a batch of successful scripted and non-scripted formats.