Mulling it over: Ten Chairman Hamish McLennan. Photo: Peter Rae Ten Network Holdings remained tight-lipped at the opening of its annual meeting in Sydney about the auction for the company being run by its adviser Citi.
Opening the meeting, Ten’s executive chairman Hamish McLennan told investors at the Four Seasons Hotel that the company had “no further update” to its December 3 statement to the market.
In that statement, Ten confirmed it had received “non-binding, conditional proposals from a number of parties in relation to transactions which, if implemented, could result in a change of control of Ten or a refinancing of its existing debt facilities”.
A 23¢-a-share joint offer from US cable TV giant Discovery Communications and local pay TV monopoly Foxtel is the favourite bid to succeed (Ten has stressed it is quite possible no deal will eventuate).
However, Ten has also received offers from New York-based fund manager Anchorage Capital Group, United States-based acquisition vehicle Silver Eagle, and American television network turnaround specialist Saban Capital Group, which is being helped by Former Nine Network chief Jeff Browne and has offered less than Foxtel.
Mr McLennan, who succeeded Lachlan Murdoch as chairman this year when Mr Murdoch become co-chairman of his father’s News Corporation, will face questions from the company’s long-suffering shareholders about its poor financial performance and ratings.
He told the AGM the past 12 months had been “a difficult period” for many media companies, including Ten.
“Business and consumer confidence has been subdued and that has been reflected in most media advertising markets, which have been soft and characterised by short-term booking cycles,” he said.
“While the television advertising market remains ‘short’, we are expecting it to record marginal growth during 2014-15.”
Mr McLennan paid tribute to Mr Murdoch, who left the board in March, leading to Mr McLennan’s promotion from CEO to executive chairman.
“Lachlan remains one of our largest shareholders and, on behalf of the board, I would like to thank him for his contribution to the company and for his ongoing commitment,” said Mr McLennan.
He spelled out a series of programming and technology successes Ten had delivered during its last financial year and said Ten is forecasting a decline in television costs of 8 per cent (excluding selling costs but inclusive of one-off events) during the 2014-15 financial year.