Blavatnik rescue for Setanta?
Russian/US billionaire oligarch Len Blavatnik is leading a consortium to buy financially troubled Setanta. The Irish pay-TV sports broadcaster has been seeking fresh cash for more than a year. Blavatnik's company for the proposed acquisition, Access Industries, confirmed June 12 that it was exploring a bid.
However, the bid is believed to be at bargain basement prices. Various reports suggest that either £20m or £40m is being tabled, for a minimum 51% stake in the broadcaster.
Access has a modest (sub-5%) holding in Setanta. Access also has a stake in TopUp TV, which is a client of Setanta."The Access proposal is subject to a number of pre-conditions being met. Access believes that this proposal would secure the future of the broadcaster for customers, football and employees." Said the company's formal statement.
Also believed to be involved is David Chance, formerly deputy CEO at BSkyB, and subsequently a senior executive at TopUpTV.
It is also not yet clear what Access will do with its new stake, if the deal is concluded. Raising Setanta's game will cost millions in new TV rights, with no guarantee of future success if the current pay-TV model is continued.
Blavatnik has homes in New York and London, and his wealth comes from a diversified investment portfolio which includes the giant aluminium producer UC Rusal, and Warner Music Group.