Setanta tipped for €113m cash boost

PRIVATE equity firm Doughty Hanson — which owns TV3 here — is reportedly close to agreeing a new funding deal with Dublin-headquartered sports broadcaster Setanta Sports which would see it pump a fresh £100 million (€113.2m) into the struggling company.

It is thought Doughty Hanson — which already owns a 20% stake in Setanta — will make the additional investment within the next four-to-six weeks.

Setanta has apparently been canvassing shareholders with a view to raising funds, after its number of broadcast packages for the English Premier League was halved to one in the most recent tender process for the British television rights for the competition, with Sky Sports benefiting from its loss.

Doughty Hanson initially bought into Setanta three years ago, buying its stake for around £108m.

A report in the British media yesterday suggested that Doughty Hanson was the favourite to provide the fresh funding as any financing was likely to come from an existing investor.

The new investment will likely also see Setanta adding a chairman to its board of directors, a post which has never been filled at the company.

Earlier this year, Sky Sports won five of the six British television transmission rights packages for the Premiership for the autumn 2010 to summer 2013 tranche, effectively lessening Setanta’s share of the British sports broadcasting market in the process.

Since then, a delayed payment to the English Football Association relating to Setanta’s rights to the FA Cup was denied by the company as a sign that it has long-term money worries.

But management has begun a strategic review of the business.

Even with the bidding for the Irish television transmission rights for Premiership football still to come, Setanta is set to look at the most effective way to progress as a business. It is understood to be looking at a new pricing mechanism — given that its chief product, Premiership football, will be lessened in the British market — and the possibility of switching its income stream from a subscription base to via selling transmission content.


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