(Adds background, analysts comments)
SYDNEY, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Lachlan Murdoch, son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, and Australian gaming magnate James Packer launched a joint A$3.3 billion ($2.9 billion) offer on Monday to buy out the Packer-backed publishing company Consolidated Media Holdings CMJ.AX.
The deal would mark Lachlan’s first big business move since quitting his father’s business in 2005, and is the second major effort by the two rival media empires to forge a venture, after backing One.Tel, a telecommunications company that collapsed in 2001 owing A$600 million.
The move comes less than three months since Packer separated his late father Kerry Packer’s media business from gaming to better focus on building up the gambling operations.
The sons of the media moguls are each expected to take a 50 percent stake in the joint venture vehicle Consolidated Media, which was formed from the split late last year.
The indicative offer, which represents a 24.4 percent premium to Consolidated’s last traded price, has the blessing of Consolidated’s biggest shareholder -- the James Packer-backed Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH).
Consolidated Media Holdings has appointed UBS as its financial adviser.
Consolidated Media owns 25 percent of pay-TV provider Foxtel, about 27 percent of on-line job site Seek Ltd SEK.AX and 25 percent of PBL Media. Seek rose 7.4 percent to A$7.15 on Monday.
“The assets in the business are quite attractive. They supply content to pay-TV and that is where the growth is in the media industry in the foreseeable future in this country,” Matt Williams, portfolio manager with Perpetual Ltd, said before the official statement was released.
He said there was a possibility of a rival bidder emerging.
“But you have to say that CPH with a 37 percent stake has a pretty strong starting position,” he added.
One market source said the Packer-Murdoch venture was being advised by Lazard Carnegie Wylie.
Lazard Carnegie Wylie was not immediately available for comment.
Earlier, a report in Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper said Lachlan Murdoch would be executive chairman of Consolidated Media.
Shares in Consolidated Media were placed on a trading halt prior to the announcement.
Lachlan Murdoch left his father's business in 2005 and now runs a private investment fund. He remains a News Corp NWSa.N director.
One.Tel’s collapse in May 2001 owing creditors A$600 million, was an embarrassment for the Murdoch and Packer families, and particularly for heirs Lachlan and James Packer who were on the company’s board of directors.
Murdoch and Packer said they had been “profoundly misled” about One.Tel’s financial situation. ($1=A$1.14) (Editing by Ian Geoghegan)
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