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Australia's Ten Network confirms numerous takeover approaches

[SYDNEY] Australian television broadcaster Ten Network Holdings Ltd said it has received buyout approaches from "a number of parties" following earlier media reports.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ten said Citigroup, which it hired last month to help decide its future ownership, received "non-binding, conditional proposals from a number of parties in relation to transactions which ... could result in a change of control of Ten".

Ten, which had the lowest ratings of Australia's three commercial broadcasters, said a board committee will now consider the proposals with Citigroup. It did not name the parties which made proposals.

On Tuesday, local media reported America's Discovery Communications and a local cable TV operator are preparing a bid Local media also said Discovery and Australian pay-TV company Foxtel, which is half owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, will offer between A$0.20 and A$0.25 a share for Ten, valuing it at A$510 million-A$664 million (S$565 million-S$736 million).

A sale of Ten, which had a market capitalisation of A$1 billion in January, would at that price be the strongest sign yet of the pressure Australia's free to air broadcasters are currently under as audiences switch to pay-per-view online offerings and advertisers spend less.

In its statement, Ten said it "urges caution in dealing in its shares on the basis of media speculation about potential transactions involving the company".

Ten shares slid 6 per cent on Tuesday to end at A$0.24, having rebounded from a record low of A$0.18 in October when reports of takeover approaches started.