SYDNEY: Lachlan Murdoch's private company on Friday revised its takeover offer for Australia's struggling Ten Network Holdings Ltd, according to bid documents reviewed by Reuters.
The fresh offer, which does not give a total value, escalates the battle for the broadcaster from a legal challenge to an already-agreed buyout from U.S. cable network CBS Corp to a full-scale bidding war.
Ten, a ratings laggard which went into administration three months ago following long declines in viewership and advertising revenue, has become an attractive target because of its national reach and strong brand recognition in the world's 12th-largest economy.
The new bid from Murdoch's company, Illyria, and the private company of his business partner Bruce Gordon, raises the pool of cash payable to unsecured creditors from AUS$35 million (US$28 million) in an offer lodged in June to AUS$55 million.
That is higher than a pool of AUS$32 million offered by CBS, according to documents released on Monday by Ten's administrator, KordaMentha. Those documents show CBS, itself Ten's largest creditor, is prepared to pay at least AUS$201.1 million in cash for the network.
Gordon launched a legal challenge to the CBS takeover earlier this week, delaying a creditors meeting that was set to vote on the buyout.
A spokeswoman for Illyria declined to comment and a spokeswoman for Gordon had no immediate comment. CBS declined to comment. A spokesman for Ten's administrator, KordaMentha had no immediate comment.
The new bid follows Australia's senate overnight overturning decades-old media-ownership rules which would have stymied a Murdoch-Gordon takeover of Ten, as they prevented owning all three media - television, newspaper and radio - in any given city.
Gordon, a billionaire, owns a regional television station and Murdoch co-chair's News Corp, which publishes about two-thirds of the nation's newspapers.
(US$1 = 1.2508 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Christopher Cushing)