John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

Taxpayers may cover MediaWorks tax bill

The owner of TV3 and half of the country's radio stations has gone into receivership today. Photo / NZ Herald
The owner of TV3 and half of the country's radio stations has gone into receivership today. Photo / NZ Herald

Taxpayers may wind up covering for MediaWorks again with an unusual restructuring deal that appears to free them from a potential $22 million obligation to the Inland Revenue department.

Banker lenders - including Westpac, the Royal Bank Of Scotland, Rabo Bank and the Bank of Scotland - were part of a consortium that called in receivers KordaMentha.

But the key role for receivers as they managed the going concern will be selling it back to a new firm the lenders control have shed potential obligations to IRD.

Senior lenders - owed around $400 million - have formed a new company with the debt having been reduced from $700 million to $100 million along the way.

The lenders - which also includes Morgan Stanley, hedge funds TPG Oaktree Capital Management - have been talking about a restructuring for months and with bankers at the start of the year.

KordaMentha would not speculate on timelines.

But given the same parties are involved in both the disposal and the purchase of the assets - the second part of the deal - going from receivership to the new entity - should not take long.

Michael Stiassny of KordaMentha said the potential obligation to Inland Revenue Department taxes will be "left behind" in the changeover.

MediaWorks, formerly owned by Canadian company CanWest, has provisioned more than $22 million for the years between 2002 and 2004.

The IRD declined to comment at print time about the status of the dispute which is over tax avoidance.

As reported in the Herald previously, the new company has two directors appointed Rod McGeoch and reality queen Julie Christie.

McGeoch and Christie are likely to seek a minority shareholding in the new firm once it has transferred from KordaMentha.

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