Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
News Corp.’s move to acquire James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings is nearing completion. Reporting revenues today, CMH said the deal should be finalized in six weeks, pending the completion of due diligence and approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. The Australian regulator cleared the deal earlier this month. News Corp. made its offer in June and via the acquisition is poised to increase its holdings in Foxtel, Oz’s leading pay-TV platform, from 25% to 50% and take full ownership of lucrative sports channels provider Fox Sports. Today, CMH reported a 15.6% fall in statutory net profit to $85.8M for the year to June, reflecting the costs of Foxtel’s takeover of regional satcaster Austar. Foxtel (excluding Austar) contributed $42M to CMH’s operating profit, up $4.4M on the prior year. Fox Sports contributed $49.4M, down $2.1M due to softer subscriber numbers and increased broadcasting costs. Foxtel had 1.68M subscribers at June 30, just 30,000 more than a year earlier. Combined with Austar’s subscribers, the total count was 2.3M. The company made no mention of a possible rival bid from Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings, which has a 24% stake in CMH and has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to review a proposal for Seven to acquire the balance of the shares.