Seven will confront the 19 defendants, which include The Australian’s owner The News Corporation Ltd, Telstra, Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd and others in the Federal Court when the trial begins in March next year.
Seven has alleged the defendants engaged in anti-competitive and collusive conduct which led to the failure of its pay-TV sports channel C7. The defendants have rejected the allegations.
In the first estimate of the possible financial implications of the ongoing legal action, Citigroup expects Seven to spend about $35 million by the time the trial concludes.
“(But) appealing an adverse decision may add another 10 to 20 per cent to the legal bill,” it said.
And if it loses, Citigroup expects Seven to be forced to pay the defendants’ costs which it estimates at $25 million.
But if Seven wins, the broker expects it to win benefits “at least in the order of $310 million, or $1.20 per share, otherwise the effort wouldn’t have been worth it”.
While difficult to estimate, it said the winning amount would represent “the upside of being compensated for what C7 would have been worth; re-emerging as a major player in the pay-TV business and having less competition for free-to-air broadcast rights for major sports”.
Citigroup also said an out-of-court settlement would be possible.
Meanwhile, Seven has poached Optus’s head of strategy and acquisitions Rohan Lund. Mr Lund is expected to join Seven’s legal and commercial team.
Mr Lund was made director of corporate development at Optus last year, reporting to chief executive Chris Anderson, who steps down next month.