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Australia's PBL to Push on with Split Plan

Australia's Publishing & Broadcasting will push ahead with plans to split its media and gaming assets into separate companies after deciding on Wednesday that new tax laws would not impact the demerger.

PBL, controlled by Australia's richest man, James Packer, had said Monday it was reassessing the plan while it studied new tax changes it thought may impact the deal.

However, a government minister later clarified the new rules would not affect demergers announced before Oct. 13, PBL said in a statement on Wednesday.

It would seek court clearance later in the day to hold shareholder meetings on the demerger plan.

"PBL is satisfied the demerger proposal is not affected by the minister's announcement and can proceed for consideration by the federal court, and if acceptable to the court, by PBL shareholders," the company said in a statement.

PBL shares, which fell 5 percent on the news on Monday, rose 2.3 percent to A$20.71 shortly after opening on Wednesday.

PBL said in May it planned to split its media and gaming interests into two listed companies, and return A$2 billion (US$1.8 billion) in cash to shareholders.

Under the plan, PBL will house its casino and international gaming assets in a company called Crown.

A separate company called Consolidated Media Holdings will include PBL's stake in pay-TV business Foxtel and a 25 percent stake in PBL Media which owns an Australian TV network and magazines.

The remaining 75 percent of PBL Media is held by private equity firm CVC.