Murdoch Jr rising again
Rose Major

Thirteen months after he failed to gain a stake in Consolidated Media Holdings, James Murdoch, Rupert’s eldest son, has bought into Australian regional television network, Prime TV.

After a A$110 million capital raising, Murdoch’s company Illyria will own 9.1% of Prime (3.28 million shares), with Seven Network’s Network Investment Holdings emerging with 11.6%. Major shareholder Paul Ramsay Holdings’ stake will be diluted from 43% to 30.1%.

Prime is affiliated with the Seven Network, which provides much of the regional network’s programming, but is a stand-alone business. The channel operates outside of Australia’s major metropolitan centres.

Prime will use the proceeds to pay down debt.

CMH, which Illyria tried to take private in association with James Packer in April 2008, owned assets including a stake in rival Nine Network (since written off by CMH). It also owned stakes in pay-TV businesses Foxtel and Fox Sports. But the deal collapsed when Murdoch failed to find funds for the deal, partly due to concerns over Nine's debt levels, and partly due to the collapse in financial markets.