Setanta buys time from backers
By Amy Wilson, telegraph.co.uk, 31 May 2009
Sports broadcaster Setanta is still in discussions with its backers to plug a funding gap, after speculation it had until today to find £100m.
Setanta's backers, private equity firms Doughty Hanson and Balderton Capital, and Goldman Sachs, have reportedly offered £50m, leaving the TV company with up to £50m to find.
The broadcaster went to the lengths of approaching rival BSKyB for a £50m advance on a deal under which Sky could sell Setanta broadcasts to its Sky Sports subscribers, but the proposal, which took the form of an interest-free loan, has reportedly been rejected.
Discussions between the company and its backers were understood to be carrying on this weekend. Doughty Hanson and Balderton each own about 20pc of Setanta, while Goldman Sachs holds less than 5pc
Setanta's refinancing negotiations are being led by a recently-appointed team including Sir Robin Miller, the former Emap executive.
The company showed this weekend's FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Everton but its finances have been under the spotlight since it secured the rights to only 23 Premier League games a season from 2010, which cast doubt over its ability to fund itself.
The broadcaster, which has 1.2m subscribers, reportedly has until June 15 to make a £35m payment to the Premier League.
Setanta is in negotiations with customers including the PGA golf tour and the Scottish Premier League to reduce what it pays to air matches. The company is seeking to bargain down some deals by as much as 25pc.
Last month, Setanta appointed accountants from Deloitte along with its advisers at Close Brothers, to help with negotiations.
Setanta declined to comment on funding discussions.
Sky says no to Setanta appeal
The Sunday Times, May 31, 2009, James Ashton
SPORTS organisations including the Scottish Premier League may be forced to stomach deeper-than-expected cuts to their TV income after shareholders in Setanta failed to stump up enough cash to keep the broadcaster alive.
Setanta's financial position was so parlous this weekend that it asked arch-rival BSkyB, which is 39.1% owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Sunday Times, for a £50m advance payment on a deal that would have seen Sky wholesale Setanta to its own Sky Sports subscribers.
The proposal of an interest-free loan, which was rejected, would have bridged the gap left by private-equity backers Doughty Hanson, Balderton Capital and Goldman Sachs, which have so far offered to inject £50m into the company.
Setanta, which has 1.2m customers, must now return for crunch talks with rights holders, including the PGA golf tour. After initially asking for a 15%-20% reduction in terms, the broadcaster is seeking to negotiate some of its rights deals down by 25%.
The company, which aired the FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Everton yesterday, got into trouble when it won the rights to screen only 23 Premier League fixtures per season from 2010, raising doubts over its future viability.
Refinancing negotiations are led by a new management team that includes chairman Sir Robin Miller, the Emap publishing veteran.
The stand-off between sports bodies and shareholders could yet force Setanta into administration. Insiders described talks with all parties as “fluid”. It has until June 15 to make a £35m payment to the Premier League. Deloitte is already advising the firm and would be appointed as administrator if required.
£50m payment helps Setanta
By Paul Kelso, Chief Sports Reporter, telegraph.co.uk, 19 May 2009
Setanta's immediate prospects have brightened after the satellite broadcaster met a scheduled payment of about £50 million to the Premier League.
Last week's payment means the broadcaster is up to date with its obligation to its most important rights-holder and can now address its long-term business plan.
Setanta had sought more time to pay from the Premier League to address a cash-flow crisis, but has now paid up after the League held the broadcaster to its contract. Its focus now shifts to raising the £100 million in fresh investment required to meet its remaining commitments this year.
The next important deadline is August, when the £67 million first instalment on the last season of its Premier League deal is due. The Football Association will also seek reassurances about its £150 million deal before the new season begins.
Setanta has been considering its options since it failed to retain both its packages of Premier League rights in the 2010-13 auction this year. New management has been installed as the company seeks to persuade investors Doughty Hansen and Balderton Capital to back them again.
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