Ten Network administrator reveals why it favoured CBS bid over Gordon-Murdoch

Ten Network administrator reveals why it favoured CBS bid over Gordon-Murdoch

Ten Network administrator reveals why it favoured CBS bid over Gordon-Murdoch

Updated 11 September 2017, 15:35 AEST

Ten Network's administrators KordaMentha bow to pressure from the Murdoch-Gordon camp, and reveal why they chose the CBS bid.

The Ten Network's administrators have caved to pressure from "disappointed underbidders", and provided further details on why it chose to sell the embattled network to US broadcaster CBS.

The underbidders in this case are billionaire investors Bruce Gordon and Lachlan Murdoch, whose joint bid lost out to CBS.

Their pressure culminated in Mr Gordon (through his companies Birketu and WIN Corporation) launching an urgent case in the Supreme Court of NSW last week, due to alleged deficiencies in the creditors' report.

The key deficiency is namely that the report "fails to include adequate information" on the billionaire duo's competing bid.

But KordaMentha maintains that its second creditors' report (released September 4) "was both compliant and provided the necessary and material information required by creditors to make an informed decision on the future of the Ten Network".

The first stage of Mr Gordon's court action was successful as it resulted in the next creditors' meeting being postponed by one week (to September 19).

Why was CBS's bid the 'better deal'?

The primary considerations, in comparing the competing bids, include the financial return to creditors, "complexity and risks" (including "certainty of execution and structure") and the "timeframe for completion", said KordaMentha partner, Mark Korda.

In its supplementary report released on Monday, KordaMentha sought to explain that the CBS bid was a "superior" deal for creditors by comparing the financial aspects of both bids.

CBS would return $32 million to creditors (or 12.43c in the dollar), while the Gordon-Murdoch deal — through their private companies Birketu and Illyria — would give back a lower amount of $27.6 million (or 10.58 cents in the dollar).

The administrators also took into account the conditions of both deals, and decided that "the CBS transaction was more certain as it had a lower execution risk".

Messrs Gordon and Murdoch are banking on the Federal Government passing the Media Law Reform Bill, which Labor, The Greens and many crossbenchers strongly oppose.

The extent of their significant media ownership interests currently prevents them from taking over the Ten Network.

If the bill is passed, it would abolish the "two out of three rule", which prevents an individual or a company owning a newspaper, TV station and radio station in the same licence area.

It would also remove the "75 per cent audience reach rule", which prevents a single TV broadcaster from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population.

CBS has the clear advantage in that it can acquire Ten without the need for Australia's media laws to be specially amended.

The administrators, who are highly critical of Mr Gordon's court action, said, "It is not the usual practice of administrators to report details of underbidders."

"It is disappointing that Birketu [Mr Gordon's company] either directly or via related parties have pursued court action, delaying the creditors vote and putting at risk the certainty provided to 750 employees and creditors under the CBS transaction."

This matter will continue to be heard by the Supreme Court of NSW on Tuesday and Wednesday.