Billionaire steps in with rescue deal for Setanta

Len Blavatnik's Access bids £20m for a 51 per cent in beleagured broadcaster

Setanta Sports has been handed a lifeline, after an American billionaire stepped in with an 11th hour rescue offer for the beleaguered pay-TV company. Ireland-based Setanta has been teetering on the brink of administration for the past week, but looks to have secured its short term future, as it faced a payment deadline to the English Premier League on Monday.

Its founders Mickey O'Rourke and Larry Ryan have been locked in emergency talks with potential investors this week, as they look to put together a rescue package and avoid calling in the administrators to wind the business up. Yesterday it emerged that Access Industries, alongside some unnamed investors, had emerged to potentially rescue the business. Access has offered £20m to take a 51 per cent stake in Setanta, which owns rights to sporting events including the FA Cup and the Scottish Premier League (SPL).

Setanta declined to comment. Insiders said: "This isn't designed to buy more time, this is the solution to steady the ship."

Access emerged as a stakeholder in Setanta earlier this year, after it accumulated a 3 per cent stake. Access was set up in 1986 by the Russian-born billionaire Leonid Blavatnik, who moved to the US when he was 21. Mr Blavatnik remains chairman and president of the industrial group and last year Forbes listed him as the 28th richest man in America.

Access released a statement yesterday saying it "can confirm that this morning it submitted a proposal to the board of Setanta to acquire a majority interest in Setanta, refinancing the company. Access believes that this proposal would secure the future of the broadcaster for customers, football and employees." The deal was subject to "a number of pre-conditions being met," it said.

Mr Blavatnik already has media interests, as the largest investor of Top Up TV, a digital television service in the UK, as well as sports content company Premium TV. He also has a stake in Russian media company CTC Media.

Outside of his media interests, he teamed up with oligarchs Viktor Vekselberg and Mikhail Fridman to take a controlling stake in Russian oil group TNK, which subsequently secured a joint venture with BP.

In 2007, Access spent $19bn (£11.6bn) on securing Lyondell Chemical Company. Yet in the wake of the financial downturn the business filed for bankruptcy and looked to restructure its huge debt burden. RBS, which was a lender to Mr Blavatnik, was forced to write down £1bn of its loan.

Mr Blavatnik yesterday emerged as Setanta's potential white knight. Setanta has been under pressure since missing a £3m payment to the SPL earlier this month. The SPL has remained in negotiations since, but the payment is yet to be made.

It is believed the £30m owed to the English Premier League is less flexible and a failure to pay could push the group into administration. The body blow came to the group when it lost one of its Premier League packages in the round of bidding earlier this year, halving its games to 23 a season. One Setanta investor said: "When they lost that, as well as the effects of the recession, the business model started becoming unsustainable for us."

Earlier this week, many of the principal investors decided against injecting more cash.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all