Bruce Gordon, the ageing Bermuda-based Australian media proprietor has revealed he has established a total stake in the Nine Network’s owner, Nine Entertainment, of just on 25%, putting him in prime position to snatch control of the company and Fairfax Media if the merger with the latter goes ahead
In a filing with the ASX on Friday, Gordon revealed that he had a 14.97% direct stake in Nine, the largest shareholding, and a further holding of 9.97% via what are called cash settled swaps — a financial derivative that allows the holder to hold shares in a company and circumvent takeover rules and regulation.
Friday’s statement to the ASX revealed he added 17.2 million shares to his cash swaps position from July through to early this month.
Gordon started adding to his stake the day after Nine’s $2.4 billion bid for Fairfax was announced on July 27.
The filing said Gordon and his companies, Birketu (the company which held shares in Ten network which were wiped out) and WIN held 130.4 million shares (14.97%) and a further 86.8 million (the cash swaps holding).
Anyone buying a 20% or more stake in a company can be obliged to launch a bid for the company, but because Gordon and his companies do not directly hold the shares (they are held by the Deutsche investment bank), he is deemed not to have an interest in the near 25% holding.
The disclosure could throw into doubt Nine’s takeover of Fairfax Media. Gordon’s share buying has not been disclosed to the market before Friday and could be construed as being a material event that alters Fairfax’s view of the deal.