Bruce Gordon’s $146.2 million bid for Sunraysia Television, owner of Perth’s Nine Network station, STW9, tops PBL Media’s offer by $10 million but isn’t big enough to land a knockout blow.

That’s nowhere near enough to get the nod from the Sunraysia board and chairman, Eva Presser, who is determined to sell her controlling 51% stake (including the holdings of friends and associates) to PBL Media.

WIN and Sunraysia are back in the NSW Supreme Court today and on Friday we got a taste of Presser’s determination to avoid dealing with WIN and the Gordons when she issued a statement in her own name claiming the directors had not received any offer for the acquisition of all the shares in Swan TV (which holds the licence) “or those of Sunraysia other than that from PBL Media for Swan TV”.

That was after the Sunraysia board issued this statement on Friday:

Late yesterday the board of Sunraysia received an offer from WIN Corporation Pty Limited in relation to the acquisition of all of the shares in its wholly-owned subsidiary Swan Television & Radio Broadcasters Pty Limited (Swan TV) for a purchase price of $146.2 million (WIN Offer). This is the first offer that Sunraysia has received from WIN for the acquisition of all of the shares in Swan TV, or those of Sunraysia. The board has not yet had an opportunity to review the WIN Offer and is not at this stage in a position to express any opinion on the WIN Offer. The board will meet as soon as possible to consider the WIN Offer and will provide further advice to shareholders as soon as practicable.

Unless and until the Directors form the view that the WIN Offer is a superior proposal to the sale of Swan TV to PBL Media, the Directors confirm their unanimous recommendation that, in the absence of a superior proposal, shareholders vote in favour of the resolution to approve the sale of Swan TV to PBL Media.

The PBL Media offer values the company at $11.96, the WIN offer values the company at $13.85. The market has an offer of $13.50 and last sale but no sellers. The shares rarely trade.

WIN and the Gordons’ offer would have to be well above $14 a share to put pressure on either PBL Media to lift its price (or walk away) or force a very reluctant STV board to accept.

Presser is not going to sell to WIN for an extra $5 million or so for her holding compared to what she will get from PBL Media. The WIN offer simply isn’t compelling enough at this level.

You’d have to ask why the Gordons couldn’t see the value of a knock-out offer which forced the hand of Sunraysia and PBL Media. Perhaps it’s just another ploy to keep PBL Media off guard while WIN has a go at NBN, its Nine Network affiliate rival in northern NSW and Newcastle.

It’s a juicier target and will cost the best part of $160 million. NBN’s owners, SP Telecom (all are part of the Washington H Soul Pattinson group) paid Soul Patts $95 million for NBN two years ago.

Something is going on, WIN’s SP Telecom board nominee, Andrew Gordon, resigned last week and then yesterday on Sky News, Soul Patts’ chairman, Robert Millner, was asked if NBN TV was on the market and he said: “Everything is for sale at the right price. We will look at offers. We have been in discussions with a few people”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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