Seven chairman Kerry Stokes and CEO James Warburton have consistently denied the broadcaster is for sale, yet JP Morgan analysts have suggested the potential for sale is not off the table.
Since Stokes replaced former Seven CEO Tim Worner with Warburton last August, rumours have swirled that one of the new boss’s tasks would be to fatten Seven for sale.
And, recent deals like the sale of Pacific Magazines to Bauer and a merger with Prime Media haven’t helped quash the rumours that Stokes and Warburton are attempting to improve the company’s balance sheet in preparation for a sale or merger.
Even analysts are unconvinced the possibility of a sale is off the table, with JP Morgan analyst Eric Pan saying in a note on Thursday that the firm believed Warburton was brought onboard to “transform the company either through a sale of the company or significant acquisitions that will change the revenue composition of the company”.
He said: “We believe the likelihood of a sale of the company is higher than acquisitions that are significant enough to transform the revenue composition of the company due to balance sheet constraints.”
Furthermore, analysts at investment bank Credit Suisse said they believe Nine will gain shares at the expense of Seven and Network 10 in the second half of the year, suggesting Nine hasn’t fully monetised its audience strength from earlier this calendar year.