Nine eyes December for $3b market listing

Media company Nine Entertainment is expected to re-emerge as a public company by the end of the year, providing a fillip to investment banks as sharemarkets reach five-year highs and a potential boon to its hedge fund owners.

Media company Nine Entertainment is expected to re-emerge as a public company by the end of the year, providing a fillip to investment banks as sharemarkets reach five-year highs and a potential boon to its hedge fund owners.

Nine boss David Gyngell this month completed a roadshow in the US and is meeting with local investors this week.

Fund manager Simon Marais, an investor in Fairfax Media, said it was too early to say whether he would be interested in buying a Nine Entertainment stake.

The listing is to be conducted by UBS, Morgan Stanley and Macquarie, and comes as Nine Entertainment readies to take control of Channel Nine Perth from media mogul Bruce Gordon.

Assets of Nine Entertainment Co include free-to-air TV station Nine Network, ticketing company Ticketek, Sydney stadium Allphones Area and stakes in Sky News operator Australian News Channel. Former federal treasurer Peter Costello sits on its board.

Despite the sharemarket soaring through 2013, there has been a dearth of quality, large initial public offerings.

And although Nine has cleaned up its once debt-laden balance sheet, investors are expected to zero in on free-to-air television's prospects in maintaining its share of the advertising wallet, and Nine's ability to narrow the gap with market leader Seven.

The Department of Communications this year paid $14.5 million to Channel Nine to help it acquire new equipment to move to digital news gathering.

Billionaire James Packer sold most of Nine and its related assets to private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific for about $5 billion in cash and debt in 2007, ahead of the financial crisis.

CVC crystallised a loss of about $2 billion last year when it was forced to hand Nine to its creditors. US hedge funds Apollo and Oaktree now own 99.5 per cent.

Jeff Browne - effectively second in charge of the network - recently stood down as managing director of Nine Network Australia to take up a new part-time role of executive director (commercial) of Nine Entertainment Co.

Nine has also recently won international cricket rights, was part of a $1.1 billion five-year deal for the broadcast rights to rugby league, and has sold its magazine arm to German giant Bauer.

Nine bought WIN Adelaide for $140 million earlier this year, and Tuesday's purchase, believed to be worth up to $200 million, expands the network's presence to five capital cities.

"Following detailed discussions with WIN proprietor Bruce Gordon and the completion of due diligence requirements, we are now in a position to finalise the contracts on this pivotal deal for the Nine Network," Mr Gyngell said in a statement.

David Mott, the former head of programming at Network Ten, has been appointed Nine Perth's managing director.

"He's coming home to help us build this market and really make an impact," Mr Gyngell said.

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