Bruce
Gordon is possibly the most powerful and wondered-about figure in Australian
media and his privately-owned WIN TV group the best placed to play whatever
changes arise from Senator Coonan’s cross-media plans.

His
company has just spent another $11 million taking advantage of the weakness in
the Ten Network share price to build its stake to more than 12%

That’s come at a cost of around $140 million. It’s on top of his
1.5% stake in PBL, 44% of STW 9 in Perth (but not control), interests
in Pay TV through a bid for Select TV which WIN will win, as well as
interests in production through the Crawford production house. WIN has
an East Coast wireless network group, Digital Distribution Australia,
and it also owns a stake in SP Telemeter which controls NBN in NSW, the
most profitable TV operation in the country and another major regional
operator for Nine, like WIN.

On the
face of it, Ten is hard to put in play because the Asper family’s Canwest group owns
56% of the network. Ten is Canwest’s major source of earnings, even at these lower
levels in 2007.

But Bruce Gordon, his son, Grant Blackley (Ten CEO) and John Kelly
(Ten CFO), had a very visible lunch at Machiavelli’s in Sydney earlier
this month. Lunches at Machiavelli are all about show; the ones where
deals are made usually take place at lawyer’s offices, in private homes
or in out-of-the-way places. What was really interesting about that
lunch was the
absence of Ten executive chairman, Nick Falloon, who would know Gordon
well from when he ran PBL.

Bruce
Gordon is on an annual trip in Australia because it’s hurricane time around Bermuda where he lives for the
rest of the year. The
link to watch is any dealings with News Ltd: Bruce Gordon and Rupert Murdoch
have already done deals involving Ten in the past.

Peter Fray

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