Ten bidding moves towards conclusion

The man who represented for sale-Network Ten’s largest single shareholder on the broadcaster’s board has resigned, as a deadline for bids for the Australian firm looms large.

Paul Mallam, who represented BruceGordon and has sat on the board for four years, unexpectedly announced his resignation via the Australian Stock Exchange.

This came as the Australian Financial Review reported Gordon has reversed his opposition to a takeover of struggling Ten by cable giant Discovery and Australian pay TV firm Foxtel.

Local reports said Mallam chose toquit after a disagreement over Ten’s future with Gordon, who owns just under 15% of the company.

That shareholding means billionaire Gordon, who owns local broadcaster WIN, will have a key say in the future of Ten.

Any deal for the firm needs the support of all key shareholders, whom also include Lachlan Murdoch, mining magnate Gina Rinehart and James Packer; and regulator the ACCC.

A deadline for initial bids for the company is set for tomorrow, local reports say.

Ten, Australia’s third-largest network, has been trailing broadcast rivals Seven and Nine, and was put up for sale after a strategic review by investment bank advisor Citi.

Mallam praised the Ten board in a statement to the ASX. “I would like to pay tribute to my fellow directors, who have addressed the issues facing the company in a disciplined and cohesive manner,” he said.

“I also have nothing but praise for the focus and commitment of management and staff of Ten. Pleasingly, their efforts have repositioned the network and created a more competitive platform for 2015.”

Ten’s executive chairman Hamish McLennan accepted Mallam’s resignation, saying: “Paul’s vast experience as a leading adviser to the media, telecommunications and technology sectors hasenabled him to provide great counsel and assistance to the board and we wish him well in the future.”

Turner Broadcasting System has also been linked to a deal, though Discovery and Foxtel are thought to be the front runners.

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