In what has become one of the most tumultuous weeks for Australian media in many years, News Limited has launched a $2bn bid to buy Consolidated Media in a deal that would up the company’s ownership of Foxtel to 50%.
An update to the ASX suggest that Consolidated Media’s largest shareholder James Packer supports the bid.
Foxtel is owned 50% by Telstra, 25% by News Limited and 25% by Consolidated Media. Other shareholders in Consolidated Media include Seven owner Kerry Stokes.
The move would also give News Limited full ownership of Fox Sports which it currently co-owns with Consolidated.
According to the ASX update, the move would be unlikely to take place until the final three months of 2012.
The move comes at a time where packer is believed to be keen to raise funds to focus on boosting his casino interests.
Packer said in a statement: “CPH welcomes News’ proposal and looks forward to CMH and News working together to address the detailed terms and conditions.”
He said that he would support the offer from News “in the absence of a superior cash offer”. The only other obvious player would be Stokes, who owns just under 20% of Consolidated through Seven Network. Seven said in a statement that it was considering its options.
The move by News Limited comes against the backdrop of the organisation being expected to announce dramatic cuts to its publishing operation, possibly as early as today.