Seven West Media is believed to be in advanced negotiations to buy New Zealand TV and radio broadcaster MediaWorks.
While neither company will comment, IF understands SWM is keen to acquire the company that operates TV3 and Four.
“Negotiations started some months ago and cooled off but they are on again in earnest,” said an executive who regularly deals with both broadcasters. “The deal is not done but they are getting to the nitty-gritty.”
Asked at the SWM AGM last week if Seven would turn its attention to purchasing other media companies to attain more earnings growth, CEO Tim Worner told The Australian, “We have to look at everything. I wouldn’t rule out anything.”
The Australian speculated Seven has examined potential bids for radio companies and international TV assets.
MediaWorks was placed into receivership last year after accumulating NZ$700 million in debt before being bought by a new company controlled by the firm’s lenders.
Mark Weldon, a former head of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, was named group CEO in August, succeeding Sussan Turner who stepped down after a 30-year career with the broadcaster.
The recapitalised company is an attractive takeover target with a rising share of TV advertising revenue and a successful radio network, and there would be obvious synergies between MediaWorks and SWM, particularly in programming, marketing and operations.
At its 2015 content launch MediaWorks announced its biggest-ever investment in local programming including the first Kiwi versions of The Bachelor and Grand Designs.
They will join MasterChef NZ, The Block NZ and The X Factor NZ plus the Australian drama series Gallipoli and local drama Westside Story, the prequel to Outrageous Fortune.
MediaWorks has beefed up its international television programming with a new NBCUniversal deal that includes Katherine Heigl’s new series State of Affairs and the reboot of the Heroes drama franchise Heroes Reborn.
Four recently renewed its content deal with Twentieth Century Fox after a stand-off.