Australia's PBL 'Reviewing All Options' Over Assets Sale

16 October 2006

SYDNEY: Responding to persistent market rumours that it is mulling an assets sale, Australian media and entertainment conglomerate Publishing and Broadcasting - controlled by the Packer family - admitted this morning (Monday) it is "reviewing all options".

PBL declined, however, to comment on reported negotiations with Newbridge Capital, a US private equity company owned by the Texas Pacific Group and Blum Capital Partners.

Among PBL's media properties are the Nine Network, ACP Magazines and online business ninemsn. In early trading today the scent of a sale drove PBL shares to their highest-yet level of A$19.95 ($14.97; €11.98; £8.07).

Commonwealth Securities analyst Craig Shepherd told The Sydney Morning Herald: "I think that they have a price in mind and if someone's willing to pay it then they'll see that as a good option.

"A number around A$7 billion would get them excited. The magazines are very valuable - half of that would be magazines," he opined.

If the rumours are correct, both PBL and Newbridge will have moved in anticipation of last week's enactment by the Australia Senate of new laws liberalizing ownership of the nation's media by foreign companies.

Newbridge claims to manage over US$3.2 billion of capital and operates out of offices in Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Data sourced from The New Zealand Herald; additional content by WARC staff