UPDATE 1-Goldman backs Nine Entertainment's debt-for-equity deal
* Mezzanine lender Goldman says will settle for 7.5 pct of Nine equity
* Hedge fund lenders holding A$2.2 bln hold key to any deal * Deal would wipe out Nine owner CVC's $1.8 bln in equity (Adds details, comments)
MELBOURNE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Funds run by Goldman Sachs Group Inc agreed to swap debt for equity in CVC Capital Partners Ltd's Nine Entertainment as the beleaguered Australian television network scrambled to avoid going into receivership.
Other lenders including hedge funds have yet to decide whether they agree to the debt-for-equity swap plan put forward by Nine management under a deal that would wipe out CVC Capital's A$1.8 billion ($1.84 billion) equity investment in the company. That would be the largest-ever loss on a single private-equity deal in Asia.
The swap would give the Goldman Sachs funds, which are owed A$975 million in mezzanine debt, a 7.5 percent equity stake in the broadcaster, plus warrants giving it some upside if the business was sold or floated.
"Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners understands the importance of keeping this iconic Australian broadcaster out of administration and is supporting the Nine board and management," a spokesman for Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners said on Wednesday. "Therefore Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners has agreed to endorse Nine's proposal."
An earlier plan put forward by Goldman and CVC proposing Goldman ending up with a 30 percent equity stake was rejected by the senior lenders of Nine - mostly rival private equity firms and hedge funds that include Apollo Global Management and Oaktree Capital Group .
The funds, which own about A$2.2 billion in senior debt bought from original bank lenders on the secondary market, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The debt must be repaid by a February deadline, and negotiations are going close to the wire for a complex deal that would take some months to finalise.
Nine, one of the biggest private equity-owned companies in Australia, has assets including the Channel Nine free-to-air network, ticketing agency Ticketek and a 50 percent stake in online site ninemsn.com.
CVC paid A$5.3 billion in cash and debt for Nine in two deals at the peak of the buyout boom in 2006-2008, overloading on cheap debt just before the global financial crisis hit.
Since then, advertising revenues have collapsed across the media sector, slashing profits at Nine and rival TV networks.
($1 = 0.9801 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell and Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Ryan Woo)
Keywords: AUSTRALIA NINE/GOLDMAN