The troubled Ten Network has brought in advisers to investigate options for its future, which could include a takeover or merger with other media companies.
The subject of takeover and merger speculation all year, Ten confirmed it had hired financial services firm Citi to help assess “a range of potential strategic options”.
The news gave Ten shares a boost, gaining as much as 11.5 per cent, before settling to close at 23 cents, up seven per cent.
But Ten’s share price remains well below the 37 cents reached in February after the success of its first season broadcasting the Big Bash cricket league.
Ten’s statement was made in response to the latest round of takeover speculation, with pay TV operator Foxtel and US cable giant Discovery reportedly considering a joint bid.
The loss-making network was also recently approached by Fairfax Media, apparently sounding out a merger.
“Ten notes that while a number of potential strategic options have been considered to date, there is no guarantee any transaction will eventuate,” it said on Thursday.
Analysts still doubt Ten will pursue a change of control.
“The stock is only up about two cents, and that is the greatest indicator of suitor interest – share price action,” OptionsXpress analyst Ben Le Brun said.
“The problems that any potential bidder could run into in terms of regulations and getting shareholder approval just make it a particularly complicated deal.”
Ten’s billionaire shareholders – Lachlan Murdoch, James Packer and WIN Television boss Bruce Gordon – have also had to fork out extra funds to help the company, while Gina Rinehart holds a near 10 per cent stake.
“I just don’t think you would get those shareholders over the line without a substantially higher bid than where those shares are trading at the moment,” Mr Le Brun said.
Discovery and Foxtel, which is half-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, have reportedly been asked by Ten to submit preliminary non-binding proposals soon.
Under the deal being considered by the pair, Foxtel would take a 14.9 per cent stake in Ten, to allow it to comply with media ownership laws.
Discovery has grown from a single pay TV channel to a giant mass-media company, operating many US and international TV networks, including Eurosport.