Taiwan Optical Platform, a Taipei listed cable operator and media investor, has offered to pay $351 million (NT$11.1 billion) to buy EBC. That comprises the 61% stake that Carlyle is selling, and an additional 4% from EBC staff.
Mintz (“Iron Man 3,” “Looper,” “Transcendence”) offered $600 million for the company in December last year. The bid was subject to review by Taiwan’s National Communications Commission and the island’s Investment Commission, with special scrutiny due to concerns that Mainland Chinese investors could be involved.
Mintz had been at pains to stress that the bid was being made by his private U.S.-based operations, rather than Yinji Entertainment & Media, his Shenzhen-listed group of companies that are also known as DMG-Yinji.
Sources at DMG confirmed that the company’s bid was not going forward. Taiwanese media reports say that DMG withdrew its bid two weeks ago. Contacted by Variety, Carlyle offered no comment.
In a regulatory filing Monday, Taiwan Optical said that its offer has not yet been accepted and that any offer would be subject to regulatory scrutiny, in particular under a draft anti-monopoly law that has not yet been approved by legislators.
Taiwan Optical used the same filing to say that it would fund any eventual acquisition through a mix of debt and its own financial resources.
The price announced by Taiwan Optical is some 40% lower than the original bid made by Mintz for the entire EBC operation, and 2% lower pro rata than an adjusted $490 million offer made by Mintz.
That may reflect the declining value of cable operators in the face of growing competition from the Internet and over-the-top (OTT) players. Equally, other cable firms may not perceive the same value within EBC’s content library that Mintz had calculated.
“EBC offers tremendous growth opportunities in digital, Mandarin-language content, premium content creation and distribution, which will become the anchor platform for ongoing global expansion of Mintz’s businesses,” said a Mintz statement last year.
Sources close to Mintz say that he continues to have a dream of a multinational Mandarin-language content platform. And that he is now exploring other options.
The bid by Taiwan Optical will be subject to approval by both the Investment Commission and the Fair Trade Commission as it would also represent consolidation of the cable TV sector. Taiwan Optical is Taiwan’s fifth largest MSO.
Its bid, which will remain on the table until March, may also face a challenge from Eastern Media International, the investment company that in 2006 sold its EBC stake to Carlyle. Eastern Media, which still holds 21.5% of EBC, says that it has a priority position in any EBC takeover and that it has been raising finance to make a full takeover of the Carlyle stake.