Court clears way for CBS to take Ten reins

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS - DAR­REN DAVID­SON

A Supreme Court judge has ap­proved the trans­fer of Ten Net­work’s shares to US me­dia gi­ant CBS.

The de­ci­sion means the drawn-out takeover process of the trou­bled free-to-air broad­caster has fi­nally reached an endgame.

Jus­tice Ash­ley Black ruled that there is no un­fair prej­u­dice if the shares are trans­ferred, which means the deal now awaits ap­proval from the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties & In­vest­ments Com­mis­sion.

The cor­po­rate reg­u­la­tor is ex­pected to ap­prove the trans­fer. Mi­nor share­hold­ers, who will be wiped out by the CBS takeover, sought to mount a po­ten­tial chal­lenge to the deal.

Jus­tice Black ex­plained to mi­nor share­hold­ers Yun­feng Du and David Gub­bay that they may ap­peal. Yes­ter­day’s hear­ing was also at­tended by Ten’s lead ad­min­is­tra­tor, Korda-Men­tha’s Mark Korda, and a CBS rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The trans­fer of shares to CBS is the fi­nal step in the takeover of the em­bat­tled broad­caster that be­gan when it slipped into vol­un­tary ad­min­is­tra­tion on June 16.

The CBS of­fer was al­most unan­i­mously backed by Ten’s cred­i­tors in­clud­ing the broad­caster’s em­ploy­ees at a meet­ing in Septem­ber.

The CBS bid thwarted a takeover at­tempt by Ten share­hold­ers Lach­lan Mur­doch and Bruce Gor­don and re­ceived the stamp of ap­proval from the For­eign In­vest­ment Re­view Board last month.

The de­ci­sion comes af­ter Ten held its upfronts pre­sen­ta­tion as part of the an­nual ad­ver­tis­ing sell­ing sea­son.

Among an au­di­ence of me­dia buy­ers and ad­ver­tis­ers on Thurs­day evening was CBS In­ter­na­tional boss Ar­mando Nunez and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Mitch Fi­field.

At the gath­er­ing in­side Syd­ney’s In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, Ten chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul An­der­son thanked ad­ver­tis­ers for stick­ing with the net­work dur­ing its own­er­ship up­heavals.

“We must be odds on to take out the award for the most col­umn inches in news­pa­pers in 2017,” Mr An­der­son said.

“One thing I have learnt is hav­ing a thick skin and not be­ing pre­cious is a must.

“We are now in the fi­nal stages of be­ing ac­quired by CBS Cor­po­ra­tion.

“This is a game-changer for Ten and we be­lieve a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive for the Aus­tralian me­dia in­dus­try.

“CBS is a global en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant, a mass me­dia com­pany that is the most­watched tele­vi­sion net­work in the US, with one of the world’s largest li­braries of en­ter­tain­ment con­tent.

CHRIS­TIAN GILLES

Paul An­der­son: ‘This is a game-changer for Ten’

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