Australian Casino Wars: The Art of War

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Nov/08/2010

G'day entertainment and media news junkies, casino and media millionaires and billionaires, one and all. Our last update on the Australian media wars was such a smashing success, we thought we would give you a hard core update without further delay. Media Man and Gambling911 throw on the bullet proof vests and whack some more rounds in the machine gun, and take on the John Rambo mindset with the last and most explosive coverage on the infamous 'Australian Media Wars'...

Network Ten Nick Falloon No Fool; Likely To Dodge Board Of Directors Execution...

Network Ten executive chairman Nick 'No Fool' Falloon will avoid standing up for re-election at December's AGM.

That move is tipped to be a talking point for his new major shareholder James Packer, and friend and associate, Lachlan Murdoch.

Falloon should ordinarily be required to resign his possy and offer up his head for re-election following the expiry this year of his 3-year term as executive chairman, but his appointment late last year as MD means he will not need to stand. Are you still with us?

Under the ASX listing rules, the MD of a listed company such as Ten Network Holdings is exempt from rules requiring directors to be up for re-election at the annual meeting every 3 years.

The appointment will essentially stop Packer and his soon-to-be fellow Ten investor, Lachlan 'Lucky Money' Murdoch, from seeking to have 'No Fool' Falloon voted off the Ten board at the AGM next month.

Fellow shareholders, namely Perpetual and WIN TV owner Bruce 'Grinning' Gordon were expected to strongly support the push. If need be, push will become shove, but the extra force shouldn't be required.

In a series of meetings last week 'Our James' is understood to have requested for Falloon's immediate resignation! Falloon agreed to step aside, bust asked for a further 14 months in the role. Perhaps he's just after a few more fat pay days... aren't we all.

Ten confirmed last Monday that Falloon had agreed to transfer to a non-executive role before Packer's cunning chess move last month to spend $280 million to buy an 18% stake in the hot youth orientated network.

Packer and Murdoch are now expected to question why Falloon can retain the title of managing director after shifting more than 2 years back to a part-time role, a move that cut his base salary from $2.2m to only $1.1m. You've go to feel sorry for him (Not, as comedy creation Borat would say).

Group general counsel... legal eagle Stephen Partington confirmed that, in recent correspondence with shareholder activist Stephen 'Crikey' Mayne, Network Ten had made (good) use of the existing listing rule exemption.

Readers, we hope you're still with us in our describing of the complex 'Art Of War' tactics here.

"Following the exit of Canwest from the Ten register late last year, Nick Falloon was appointed to the role of managing director of Ten," Partington documented.

"Mr Falloon was originally appointed to Ten in the roles of executive chairman and chief executive and continues to hold these positions. On this basis and in accordance with the company's constitution and the ASX listing rules, Mr Falloon is now no longer required to retire by rotation."

A Network Ten spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Numerous insiders agree that the change could benefit the Ten board in the battle with Murdoch and Packer if the board wanted to retain Falloon.

A Media Man spokesperson said "While these maters of the Australian media wars are complex, especially pertaining to the changes afoot at Network Ten, Fallon is no fool, nor are Murdoch, Packer or Nine's Gyngell. All smart and cashed up smart cookies indeed. The media's love affair with covering media continues, and we're guilty of that also, and the global readership is just loving it and lapping up every move of the chess board. Art of war media style at its best".

The media movements have generated extra interest to potential investors and Media Man and other convergent media companies are tipped to buy into the the situation in more ways than one ala share portfolio expansions, adding yet more fuel to the fire that is the Australian media wars.

Ten Network Chairman Nick Falloon To Resign!...

Ten chairman Nick Falloon has surrendered to considerable pressure to leave the firm, advising he will go in order to make way for billionaires James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch.

The company yesterday said Falloon had agreed to resign from Ten after the AGM next month if his departure "would assist in the resolution of the outstanding issues" between the company, Packer and Murdoch.

A deep throat leaked Packer and Murdoch were still trying to obtain a 3rd board position, but did indicate they were "prepared to negotiate."

The Packer - Murdoch 'dream team' have been offered 2 seats on the board but are seeking a 3rd, understood to be for Seek chief exec Paul 'Ballsy' (MM) Bassat.

The leak also shrugged off rife speculation that Murdoch wanted to snatch Falloon's chairmanship.

Packer and Murdoch have been in negotiations with the network since the beginning of the working week.

Falloon's offer to leave Ten came days after he said he was prepared to shift into a non-exec role...reports stating he would fight for his life to remain at the company he had helped successfully run since 2002.

Ten confirmed on Monday that it had offered the dynamic duo 2 board positions following speculation Packer was preparing to offer his friend, and sometime business partner, Murdoch half his 18% stake in the company.

Crown Casino 'King Of The Castle' Packer made a cunning grab on Network Ten last month when he bought 18% of Ten's stock to become the largest shareholder at an investment of a cool $280 million, pocket change to Packer.

He has yet to speak publicly to reveal his strategy for buying into the company, but various media commentators including Media Man say it's part of his master plan to make a huge splash into online gaming and gambling, adding to his Betfair business. A convergent media aspect is understood to be on the whiteboard for gaming linking Packer media businesses to Packer and affiliate - partners online gambling products, and Packer and co are understood to have been watching the tactics of PartyGaming, bwin, Virgin Games, Aspers, William Hill, Paddy Power, Centrebet and others.

Ten advised discussions were continuing but no final agreement had been reached.

"In discussions to date, Ten Holdings has offered Messrs Packer and Murdoch the opportunity to take up two directorships on the basis that the company's board would be expanded to 10 directors," Ten said.

"The offer of two directorships to Messrs Packer and Murdoch is contingent upon their agreement that the company put in place appropriate board protocols."

Network Ten shares closed at $1.46.

They traded as high as $1.59 last month followings Packer's share-buying raid which generated massive world wide headlines and sent the industry into a spin.

Insiders agree that thus far the latest venture between Packer and Murdoch looks to be a 'dream team' pairing, unlike their previous business deal with a telco start-up that proved to be disastrous for the duo. Both have appeared to have learnt their lessons well, and are on top of the media world at the moment.

Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our latest on the Australian Media Wars? Is it all part of Packer's online gambling master plan? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis. Media Man also publish Media Man News http://www.mediamannews.com

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