John Drinnan

John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

MediaWorks waits for banker approval

Photo / Martin Sykes
Photo / Martin Sykes

Plans by MediaWorks to boost programming budgets and pay off a $36 million loan to the Government are waiting on banker approval.

Ironbridge Capital is still finalising a debt restructuring deal unveiled seven weeks ago.

MediaWorks owns TV3 and Four and half the country's commercial radio industry with stations such as RadioLive, The Rock and The Edge.

On February 29, Ironbridge announced a deal that would ease pressure on first-tier debtors by wiping out second-tier debt.

It would reduce interest by $20 million a year and included a $50 million cash injection.

It was an important step forward for the company, which had suffered from disruption and uncertainty.

"The purpose of this recapitalisation is to provide funds for investment in the growth of the business in areas such as local programming, promotion and sales," Ironbridge said.

"Recapitalisation will ... provide a liquidity buffer and place the business on a sound footing to move forwards.

But the deal - which was aimed at shutting out rival private equity company TPG - has still not been finalised, and TPG will lurk in the background until it is signed off.

Ironbridge said last week that the parties in the restructuring deal had agreed in principle, but the terms of the deal were still being signed off by the investors involved.

Of the $50 million, a big part is earmarked to pay the Government the balance of a $44 million loan which allowed MediaWorks to pay off radio frequency licences over five years, because it could not afford to pay it in one hit.

Of the $44 million loaned in 2009, Mediaworks owes $35.7 million. This is due in three payments of about $11.9 million to be paid on October 3, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The Ministry of Economic Development - which oversees the loans - says MediaWorks is up to date with payments. The Government loaned the money on 11.2 per cent interest, so there is logic in the debt being retired.

This week it was revealed Ironbridge plans to sell another big investment in New Zealand, EnviroWaste Services.

Ironbridge purchases for EnviroWaste and MediaWorks were both made at the peak of the market before the global financial crisis.

- NZ Herald

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