NZ broadcaster MediaWorks in receivership, new owners lined up

WELLINGTON, June 17 Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:55pm EDT

WELLINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - New Zealand broadcaster MediaWorks Ltd was placed in receivership on Monday after its private equity owners and bankers failed to agree on a refinancing deal, but new owners have been lined up.

Investors led by Australian businessman Rod McGeoch, a director of gaming company SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd and chairman of Vantage Private Equity Ltd, are set to take over the company which operates New Zealand's TV3 and Channel 4 television networks, and a string of radio stations.

"We have put in place a capital structure that will see debt levels reduced from over NZ$700 million to less than NZ$100 million. This puts the company in a much stronger financial position," McGeoch said in a statement.

Australian private equity firm Ironbridge bought publicly listed MediaWorks in 2007, when it was majority owned by Canadian broadcaster Canwest, for NZ$740 million ($597 million) in a highly leveraged deal.

But its debt structure became unsustainable after the global financial crisis, MediaWorks managing director, Sussan Turner said in a statement.

A group of banks -- Westpac, Rabobank, and RBS -- appointed financial advisory firm KordaMentha to administer the company.

The receivers said business would continue as usual, funding would continue to be provided, and there would be no job losses as a new structure and owners were put in place.

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