Australis In Receivership

Australis in receivership

Tokyo, Japan, 6 May 1998 (SAT-ND) -- Struggling satellite television
broadcaster Australis Media Ltd went into receivership but its
receiver-manager said he planned to keep Australis's businesses intact. He
vowed to continue trading and to seek further funding to remain solvent.

Australis has been on the brink of insolvency since November 1997 when its
shares, last traded at five cents, were suspended by the Australian Stock

Australis's major cost is the set up of its satellite television
broadcasting service, the main cause of the group's reported accumulated
losses of more than A$700 million since it started in 1993. Australis's
main asset is a 25-year film distribution agreement with fellow pay-TV
group Foxtel, which is jointly owned by News Corp Ltd and Telstra Corp Ltd.
Australis receives about A$6 each month from Foxtel's 300,000 paying viewers.

Australis battled for almost two years in two separate attempts to push
through a proposed merger with its biggest rival, Foxtel, but was knocked
back both times by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC) on the grounds that it would reduce competition.

News Corp has argued that the Australis-Foxtel film distribution agreement
be terminated if Australis is insolvent. No way, says receiver-manager
Peter Walker: "That is our principal asset and we will be looking to
maintain that, because it is the core part of the business."

Analysts said it was nontheless possible that either News Corp. or Kerry
Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) might make an offer to
Australis' foreign bondholders to buy Australis's assets. Australis's other
major asset, its satellite infrastructure, may attract Austar as a
potential buyer, which provides pay TV services via satellite in regional

Source: Sat-ND

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