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Media moguls' plan to 'save' Ten Network

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Key Ten Network shareholders Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon have teamed up to work on a plan to save the broadcaster after it went into voluntary administration.

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The pair, who hold 7.7 per cent and 15 per cent of Ten, respectively, through their private investment companies, told the stock exchange late yesterday they had an “agreement”.

“Birketu and Illyria have agreed to work together exclusively to facilitate the potential formulation, negotiation and implementation of a restructure proposal,” Gordon’s company told the ASX.

Ten recently approached Murdoch, Gordon and gaming mogul James Packer to support a $250 million debt refinancing.

But its overtures were rejected and the third-ranked free-to-air TV station yesterday announced it had gone into voluntary redundancy.

Administrator Mark Korda, of KordaMentha, has pledged to keep the business running as usual as options to refinance or sell the embattled broadcaster are considered.

“The administrators are confident that the network is an attractive asset which will find a buyer or will be recapitalised,” he said in a statement.

Ten said its board had “no choice” but to appoint administrators after Murdoch and Gordon declined to guarantee the new finance package, which must be secured by December.

Other key Ten shareholders include Foxtel with 13.8 per cent, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, with 8.5 per cent via her investment vehicle Hanrine, and Packer, with 7.7 per cent through his Aidem Holdings company.

Ten said yesterday it had identified savings and other items that would add $50 million to earnings in 2017/18 and more than $80 million in 2018/19.

Federal communications minister Mitch Fifield said Ten’s predicament was “a wake-up call for opponents of media reform” and called on the federal opposition to pass a media reforms package that includes eliminating costly broadcast licence fees.

“That a major Australian media organisation is in such difficulty should be a matter of concern,” he said.

Ten’s chief executive Paul Anderson had been saying for more than 18 months that media law needs to be reformed.

The media reform legislation will be presented to the House of Representatives today.

-AAP

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