Australian media mogul Bruce Gordon has failed in his last-ditch attempt to torpedo Channel Ten's takeover by US media giant CBS.
He had taken action in the NSW Supreme Court against Ten's administrators KordaMentha, arguing that his joint-bid (with Lachlan Murdoch) to buy the network had not been properly considered and a competing bid from CBS treated more favourably.
Mr Gordon, who owns the regional WIN Network, was seeking orders for the second creditors' meeting to be restrained.
But the court this morning ruled the meeting can proceed as planned tomorrow — and it's expected that creditors will vote on CBS's takeover bid.
"It will be a matter for creditors at that meeting to determine whether [it] should be adjourned by reason of ... any recent commercial developments, or for any other reason," Justice Ashley Black said in his judgment.
By "recent commercial developments", the judge was referring to a revised Gordon-Murdoch offer submitted last Friday, after the Senate voted to pass media law reforms.
Mr Gordon's lawyers had argued the KordaMentha's creditors' report was deficient, namely because it only presented information about the CBS takeover bid, and not the joint bid from himself and Mr Murdoch.
He also sought court orders for CBS to be prevented from voting on its own bid for Ten at tomorrow's creditors' meeting.
However, Justice Black was not satisfied there were any deficiencies in the report.
The judge also ruled that CBS would not be prevented from voting on its own bid for Ten at tomorrow's meeting, or that its vote be restricted to the small nominal amount of $1.00.
How all this happened
Ten's troubles began in early June, when Mr Gordon's and Mr Murdoch's private companies, Birketu and Illyria, decided not to continue being the guarantors for the network.
The struggling network was then placed in voluntary administration on June 14 on the basis that it was "insolvent or likely to become insolvent".
Bidders for the Ten Network were invited to submit their final binding proposals by August 24.
However, Mr Gordon and Mr Murdoch submitted theirs one day after that deadline.
In any event, the administrators preferred CBS's bid over the Gordon-Murdoch proposal, and subsequently entered into an exclusivity agreement with the US media giant.
Dispute heads to the courts
Mr Gordon attempted to torpedo CBS's bid by seeking urgent court orders to delay the second creditors' meeting, originally scheduled for September 12.
He was successful in that regard as the court granted that order, thereby delaying it to tomorrow.
The defendants in that case were Ten's administrators, and CBS. Mr Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox intervened, but was not formally a party to the proceedings.
At last week's hearing, Mr Gordon's lawyer argued that the second creditors' report was "deficient".
In particular, his lawyers argued that "any administrator acting in the best interests of creditors would inquire whether a competing bid would remain open after the time for its expiry".
Justice Black rejected that argument in no uncertain terms.
Mr Gordon was today ordered to pay the other parties' legal costs.