IT WILL be “business as usual” for the WIN Network, but it is being reported the organisation’s billionaire owner Bruce Gordon helped seal the fate of Network Ten.
“While we will continue to monitor the situation in order to determine any future impact on our business, our customers and our viewers, it is business as usual across the entire WIN Network,” a statement released by WIN, an affiliate program partner of Ten, said.
“Today’s announcement does not change our commitment to the areas we broadcast to in regional Australia, our viewers or our clients.”
WIN noted a recent acquisition of the Northern NSW business from Southern Cross Austereo reinforced WIN’s commitment to television in regional Australia.
Fairfax Media is reporting Network Ten's fate was sealed by media moguls Lachlan Murdoch and Mr Gordon, according to an agreement reached on the Friday before Ten was placed into voluntary administration on Wednesday.
Letters released to the market confirm their decision to form a tight partnership and merge the voting power of Birketu Pty Ltd and Illyria Nominees, the investment vehicles of Mr Gordon and Mr Murdoch respectively, on June 9, the same day they told the board they would no longer act as Ten's financial guarantors.
Along with James Packer, the two men were guarantors for a $200 million loan to Ten Network Holdings from Commonwealth Bank that falls due on December 23. However, they told the company's board over the weekend they would not extend or increase their support.
Well-placed sources said Mr Packer had expressed a desire to exit the guarantee, which, combined with Ten's aim to increase the loan to $250 million, would have seen Mr Murdoch and Mr Gordon asked to guarantee $125 million each, up from $67 million.
A letter from Birketu's Andrew Gordon (Bruce's son) to Illyria Nominees managing director Siobhan McKenna was released to the market, showing both parties were worried they could lose their entire investments if Ten defaulted on the loan.
"There is a risk of Birketu and Illyria each being exposed to significant liability under their respective guarantees together with a complete loss of their respective investments in Ten's equity," the agreement states.
"It may be in the parties' respective commercial interests to consider whether a proposal could be formulated and agreed ... under which Ten's existing secured debt would be repaid and any guarantee support would be removed over an appropriate period."
The agreement states neither Mr Murdoch nor Mr Gordon would solicit or encourage any takeover offers for Ten, or any debt or equity financing offers.
In a statement on Wednesday, the board said that after it received correspondence from Birketu and Illyria the directors were left with "no choice but to appoint administrators".
Fairfax Media understands neither camp was convinced that Ten's three-point plan was enough to turn it around.
_ with Lucy Battersby, SMH