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JUDGEMENT ON E-TV EXPECTED NEXT WEEK

Bonn – Investment banks are scrambling for fees of about $1 billion as Deutsche Telekom and the German government plan to sell about $60 billion in stock, bonds and assets in Europe`s biggest phone company next year.

Cape Town – Midi Television, the parent company of free-to-air television station e-tv, will know next week whether it has succeeded in thwarting a bid by two Cape Town producers to have it wound up on the grounds that it is insolvent and cannot pay its debts.

Judge Dennis van Reenen said because of the prominence of the matter he would do his utmost to produce a judgment by early next week.

The two producers, Sharlto Copley and Simon Hansen claim their company Sprockets Productions, trading as Deadtime, was owed R5,5 million following an oral agreement concluded in September 1997, which was subsequently ratified, that it would be paid R13 million – R2 million up front and thereafter R1 million per month.

Midi denied the existence of any agreement and said a relationship existed between it and Deadtime in terms of which Midi would fund the costs, overheads and expenses for the production of branded programming between midnight and 5am.

The court was told that Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), the largest body of shareholders, had already pumped more than R400 million into Midi to keep the television station on the air.

HCI was committed to providing the funding until the end of the financial year at March 31, 2000. It was also reported that negotiations were underway with other interested shareholders to continue funding.

However Rob Cohen, counsel for Deadtime, yesterday maintained that Midi was commercially insolvent and said documents provided by Midi showed it was incurring losses of R25 million per month.

To rebut submissions that it was insolvent, Midi depended on the subordination of shareholders` loans worth R497 million by the date the application for its winding up was lodged.

The written undertaking by HCI to continue funding Midi until March next year was “pie in the sky” because it could be withdrawn at any time , Cohen said.

Source: Business Report – Ronnie Morris