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We’re (Debt) Free! Nine Ready to “Rock N Roll”

We’re (Debt) Free! Nine Ready to “Rock N Roll”

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The deal removed the $3.2 billion debt Nine had hanging over its head, threatening to put the media giant into the hands of receivers, if a funding agreement was not made.

Weeks of intense negotiations took place before the save-our-souls deal for Nine was made, in Sydney today.

A clearly relieved Nine boss David Gyngell confirmed the deal today, after he was forced to leave the talks yesterday as his TV presenter wife, Leila McKinnon, gave birth to their first child a week premature.

”All those doomsayers out there are going to have to eat their words. We have never had a more powerful balance sheet,” he declared.

“I’m not sure if all the players are happy, but I certainly am.”

Nine, which is majority owned by CVC Asic Pacific, owed over $3.3bn in total to lenders – $2.3 billion to US hedge fund and a further $1 bn to Goldman Sachs Mezzanine lenders.

Senior lenders led by US funds Oaktree Capital and Apollo Global Management will now take control of Nine in a debt-for-equity swap deal.

Exact details of the agreement have not yet been released.

The deal also means Nine, which includes its hugely successful free-to-air network, was ”ready to rock and roll for next year,” Gyngell added.

A newly debt free Nine now means its TV channel is now back in the game to kick off a fresh content war with arch rival Seven, as well as other free and pay TV competitors including Foxtel.

Aside from Channel Nine, the group also owns Ticketek, Sky News, ACP magazines (publisher of Woman Weekly, Auto Trader, Cleo) and Nine MSN news site portal – also one of the most visited sites in Oz.