James Packer’s PBL Media might have to wait quite a while to have another crack at getting its hands on the underperforming STW 9 station in Perth. Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corporation yesterday won its court battle to delay Sunraysia TV’s shareholders meeting, set down for Melbourne today, which was going to approve the sale of the station to PBL Media for $136 million.

It would seem from media reports  that WIN didn’t win because of its claim of lodging a higher bid for STW 9, but because of the gaping holes in the information Sunraysia provided to its shareholders.

WIN owns 44.6% of Sunraysia (but has had no board representation) and also won access to the company’s books; a move that could help it firm up a bid.

Sunraysia has to meet the costs of the action which it lost comprehensively. It’s a huge defeat for Sunraysia’s board and major shareholder, Eva Presser. And the decision is also a major embarrassment for well-known corporate adviser, David Gonski, who was involved in advising Sunraysia.

Reading Justice Austin’s decision  is a guide to how not to put together information for such a crucial shareholders’ meeting. WIN made its point that the information provided to shareholders for today’s meeting was so deficient and disclosed so little that it should be put aside and Sunraysia was forced to issue more detailed documentation for a new meeting.

But what happens now? Can WIN lodge a higher offer? Relations between WIN, and Sunraysia are now so poor that it’s doubtful they can talk to each other, except through lawyers. Can anyone seriously see Presser accepting an offer from Gordon when similar approaches have been rejected in the past?

There is no requirement for Presser to accept an offer from Gordon, even if it is higher. Including “friends” and associated companies owning shares she probably really speaks for more than 51% of the company.

Presser may sit and not sell; Mr Packer may sit and be locked out. Of course he can offer substantially more and do a deal with WIN on its affiliation agreement to everyone’s satisfaction. That would see things happen very quickly.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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