U.S. Equity Firms Win Control of Australia’s Nine Network

Apollo Global Management LLC and Oaktree Capital Group LLC won control of Nine Entertainment Co., Australia’s second-most watched television network, with a federal judge giving final approval to a reorganization plan.

Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson in Sydney today approved the company’s plan to convert A$3.4 billion ($3.5 billion) of debt to equity, with the two U.S. firms given the right to appoint five members of the nine-member board in the first year.

CVC Capital Partners Ltd., the London-based buyout firm which spent A$5.75 billion acquiring Nine Entertainment beginning in 2006, ends up with A$4.5 million and a 0.75 percent stake in the restructured company.

The plan won the support of 96.6 percent of the company’s creditors in a vote, Jacobson said. The judge said he was satisfied that since “no opposition to the scheme has been made, that the scheme is one that appears to be fair and reasonable.”

Nine has A$2.2 billion of senior debt, according to court filings, which is due to mature Feb. 7. Apollo and Oaktree hold A$893 million of the debt.

Nine also owns Australia’s largest indoor music venue and Ticketek, an event ticketing company. Its most popular television programs include the Australian version of Big Brother, British motoring show “Top Gear,” and CBS Corp.’s crime drama the “Mentalist.”

The case is In the Matter of Nine Entertainment Group. NSD2079/2012. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

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