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.

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
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

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

IT Operations Manager - London - £55,000

£50000 - £55000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Relationship M...

Banking Solicitor NQ+

Highly Attractive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NOTTINGHAM - BRILLIANT FIRM - You wil...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past