Packer nabbed 18% stake in a surprise raid last week

Australia’s Ten Network offered James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch seats on its board on Monday, after Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings grabbed an 18% stake in a A$280 million ($275 million) raid on the network last week.

The move reps Packer’s return to TV after he sold off the family’s Nine Network in 2008 to concentrate on his casino and gambling holdings — the first time the Packer family had not held TV interests in almost 50 years.

In a statement to the Australian stockmarket, Ten confirmed rumors that Lachlan Murdoch intended to join his friend Packer in the web.

The two famous media sons have been in business once before in the failed telco OneTel, which collapsed in 2001 losing the pair $1 billion and triggering lawsuits and recriminations that lasted for years.

One person the raid has not been good for is Ten’s exec chairman Nick Falloon. Falloon and Packer fell out nearly a decade ago when Falloon ran the Packer family company Pubishing and Broadcasting Ltd.

Ten confirmed today that Falloon would be shifted to a non-exec role and the web was open to discussing his replacement — tipped by many to be Murdoch.

Ten said, “The company looks forward to reaching an agreement with Messrs Packer and Murdoch.”

Murdoch has been searching for an Aussie media vehicle for some time, eventually paying $108m for half of DMG Radio Australia and 9% of Prime Media Group — Seven Network’s regional affiliate — through his private investment vehicle Illyria.

He is yet to officially purchase any of Packer’s Ten stock, though the pair have had several meetings and the deal may take a few weeks to set up.

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