TVS bid may still run into trouble

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The Independent Online
SHAREHOLDERS in the broadcaster TVS Entertainment, which loses its southern TV franchise on 1 January, yesterday approved a change in the company rules to allow US-based International Family Entertainment to go ahead with its agreed pounds 46m bid.

But aggrieved preference shareholders believe they still have sufficient firepower to squeeze a higher offer from IFE, which is controlled by Pat Robertson, the television evangelist, or to remain on the shareholder register as a nuisance.

Several large preference shareholders are understood to be considering rejecting the offer, including the Canada-based Cundill Fund with more than 15 per cent, and Nicholas Berry, who speaks for about 5 per cent.

IFE needs the votes of 75 per cent of preference shareholders to be able to purchase the rest compulsorily. At yesterday's vote on the related issue of changing the articles of association, 27 per cent of preference shareholders who voted opposed the change.

Rudolph Agnew, TVS's chairman, faced questions from several hostile shareholders who believed the company was being sold on the cheap and that preference shareholders were being unfairly treated.

He said the offer was fair, and the split between ordinary and preference shareholders 'appropriate'. TVS's accumulated tax losses, now around dollars 300m, were, in practice, 'not material'.

TVS was not able to provide a share-dealing arrangement for shareholders electing to accept IFE paper because of the strict rules of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, he said.

The change to the articles was to allow an approved person to hold more than 10 per cent of the shares. It was passed on a show of hands. The chairman held proxies in favour from 99.5 per cent of ordinary shareholders and 73 per cent of preference shareholders.

The first closing date for acceptances is Tuesday next week.

Granada Group appointed Henry Staunton, a senior audit partner with the accountants Price Waterhouse, as its new finance director from 1 March. The post has been empty since October, when Graham Wallace left to run Granada's TV rental division.

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