Aussie Southern Star in Takeover Talks

Australian production and distribution powerhouse Southern Star Group has received an acquisition offer from fellow Aussie entity Southern Cross Broadcasting Ltd. If it goes through, the deal will see Southern Cross acquire all the shares in Southern Star at 89 cents per share.

The Southern Star Board also intends to announce a special dividend of $10 million payable to Southern Star shareholders if Southern Cross’ friendly takeover offer is successful. The record date for the special dividend will follow the offer being declared unconditional and shareholders who accept the Offer will remain entitled to the special dividend.  The special dividend will be franked to the fullest extent possible and is likely to be fully franked.  The special dividend is conditional upon the success of the offer.

Southern Star exec. chairman Neil Balnaves will join the Board of Southern Cross Broadcasting and will continue to manage Southern Star’s business. He comments, "Southern Star’s management team will continue to manage Southern Star’s business and maintain the company’s leadership position in the production of programming in Australia and the U.K. and our international profile in program distribution, both domestically and internationally."

According to Balnaves, Southern Star will deliver more than 500 hours of programming this financial year, adding to a library of more than 14,000 hours of English-language TV programming ranging from drama to family and children’s and documentary fare. Among its animated co-productions are the series Kangaroo Creek Gang, Tracey McBean and the $6.7 million, 26-episoder The Adventures Bottle Top Bill.

An Independent Expert’s report will be commissioned as part of the offer documentation to be sent to Southern Star shareholders. It is expected that Southern Cross’ offer will close before the end of March 2004.