An interesting line in The Irish Times’ grim report of Setanta Sport’s financial troubles suggests that Doughty Hanson, owner of TV3 and 3e in Ireland, could make a bid for the sports broadcaster in the coming days.
Setanta has found itself facing administration after years of rapid expansion and Doughty Hanson is seen as a potential bidder should the company – or parts of it – come on the market. Doughty Hanson already owns 20% of Setanta and has pumped significant money into the station in return.
Should Doughty take control of Setanta it would also gain an 80% holding of Setanta Sports Ireland, which The Irish Times claims is making a modest profit. If so-called synergies were found between Setanta and Doughty’s TV3 this profit margin could grow higher (although it’s unlikely that re-naming the station under the TV3 brand would be part of that).
To make things even more interesting the consortium run by TV3, Setanta and Eircom now hold the Irish DTT licence, opening the door-way for even greater co-operation should Doughty buy up the struggling sports broadcaster.
That fact in itself could create competition concerns but the ones most likely to be truly worried are in RTÃ‰, who would see the hand of their main rival grow all the stronger in a short space of time.