Australian billionaire James Packer has bought $245 million worth of shares in Network 10, a move which puts him in prime position for ownership of Aussie Football League television rights.

Packer, who owns Consolidated Media Holdings and a quarter of Foxtel, now owns about 15 per cent of Network 10. This puts Ten in an excellent spot to team up with Foxtel and purchase the sought-after AFL rights, which will be for sale in 2011.

”It’s very interesting, particularly with the AFL rights coming up again next year and, of course, Ten teamed up with Seven and Fox Sports the last time the contract was being renewed,” said BBY media analyst Mark McDonnell.

‘Packer effectively owns Fox Sports and the AFL rights are going to be one of the big stories over the next 12 months,” Mr McDonnell said.

Consolidated Media Holdings bought the stake in the network through investment bank UBS, according to the Herald Sun.

In a single transaction,163.3 million shares were traded at $1.50 a piece, according to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The Network 10 sale comes four years after casino mogul James Packer began selling his family’s share in PBL Media, including the treasured Nine Network. The transaction indicates a renewed interest in re-building his media empire.

There has also been speculation of late that Packer is going to privatise Crown Limited, his gambling empire.


– Heather Vandenengel