Setanta may be saved by takeover

13 Jun 2009

It has emerged that Irish sports media group Setanta may be saved from administration by a potential takeover by Access Industries, which is owned by US investor Len Blavatnik.

Access, which is currently a minority shareholder in Setanta with a 3pc stake, is understood to have bid £20m sterling for a 51pc stake in Setanta.

Setanta, which has substantial TV and internet interests, including a thriving digital TV business in North America, recently lost out on an auction for the rights to Premier League football packages to BskyB, effectively cutting its output from 46 games to 23. It also lost out on a lucrative £3m sterling deal for the Scottish Premier League last week

This prompted a major review of the company’s business. The company has to make a £30m sterling payment to the UK Premier League.

Setanta’s key problem was that after winning sports rights it failed to sign up enough subscribers.

The company has been frantically trying to refinance its business and during the week suspended signing up new subscribers.

However, it has emerged that Setanta has returned to taking subscriptions.

It is understood that as part Blavatnik’s ‘White Knight’ rescue of Setanta a substantial multimillion payment was made to the company yesterday.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years