David Gyngell

"We've never had a more powerful balance sheet. We're ready to rock and roll for next year" ... David Gyngell. Photo: Ben Rushton

''THERE is a deal''. With these words the Nine Entertainment boss, David Gyngell, secured a place in the colourful history of Australia's oldest television broadcaster which he helped save from collapse.

''All those doomsayers out there are going to have to eat their words,'' he said yesterday after two days of tense negotiations with lenders. ''We've never had a more powerful balance sheet. We're ready to rock and roll for next year.''

It was Mr Gyngell's second big delivery of the day. At 2am yesterday his wife, the Weekend Today co-host Leila McKinnon, gave birth to their first child, Edmund ''Ted'' McKinnon Gyngell.

<i>Illustration: Rocco Fazzari</i>

Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

While some of the parties involved in the negotiations suggested the announcement by Mr Gyngell was a tad premature, no one disputed that Nine was now safe from the threat of collapse.

The private equity group CVC Asia Pacific, which overpaid James Packer for the media group, has had its $2 billion investment wiped out, and lenders owed $3.2 billion have agreed to wipe out this debt and take ownership of the company instead.

The US hedge funds Oaktree Capital and Apollo Global Management will now control Nine, and lower ranked lenders, led by the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, will receive a stake worth $100 million.

The deal will have particular resonance for Nine's staff precisely because it was achieved by Mr Gyngell's hand. His personal popularity within Nine is immense, not just because Mr Gyngell's father, Bruce, played a part in the network's genesis in 1956. When Mr Gyngell resigned from Nine during an earlier stint in 2005, staff wept openly.