Milchan to buy 25% of Israel’s Channel 10

Israeli expat to invest $12 mil for 25% stake

JERUSALEM — Israeli expat Arnon Milchan is set to acquire a 25% stake in his country’s beleaguered commercial station Channel 10.

The Hollywood-based producer brokered the deal alongside Israeli advertising heavyweight Ilan Shiluach, one of the owners of McCann-Erickson Israel.

Under the accord, Milchan will invest some $12 million in the station for a 25% stake and Shiluach, $3 million for 10% of the shares.

The pair signed a preliminary agreement late last week. Deal is contingent on an expected government ruling extending Channel 10’s license from eight to 12 years and the approval of the Second Broadcasting Authority Council.

Milchan and Shiluach are the latest in a long line of Israeli and Jewish Diaspora moguls to have invested in the troubled 3-year-old station.

Energy tycoon and station founder Yossi Maiman is reported to have poured more than $80 million into the channel since its launch in 2002.

In November 2003, U.S. cosmetics heir Ron Lauder and Anglo-Israeli real estate heavyweight Shlomo Ben Tzvi paid $15 million-$20 million for a 60% stake in the channel.

Prior to their entry, Mexican tycoon Moshe Saba also mulled investing but withdrew after media furor over comments that he would clean up the channel’s content.

Earlier this month, Lauder candidly told Israeli financial newswire the Marker that Channel 10 had been “a terrible investment so far” but that he had high hopes for Shiluach’s arrival on the scene.

Maiman and Lauder, whose 40% stakes will be diluted following Milchan and Shiluach’s entry, are both set to invest a further $15 million between them over the coming months. Ben Zvi has nixed further investment, reducing his 20% stake to 10%.

In the backdrop, the Second Broadcasting Authority Council is currently examining bids for the next 10-year tender for Israel’s most popular commercial station, Channel 2.

The bidders include the current franchisees Reshet, Keshet and Telad, who provide content on a rotating basis, and a new group called Canne, spearheaded by Ami Geniger’s Taya Communications.

The council is due to announce just two winners at the end of March. The franchise will start in November.

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