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BSkyB to create Sky Europe

Friday, July 25 08:18:16

Britain's BSkyB has agreed to pay 4.9 billion pounds ($8.3 billion) in cash to buy Rupert Murdoch's pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy, responding to slowing growth at home by creating a European media powerhouse.

BSkyB, in which Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is also the top shareholder, will pay for the deal using cash, debt and a placing of shares that represents around 10 percent of its issued share capital.

21st Century Fox is expected to use the proceeds from its partial exit from Europe to fuel its pursuit in the United States of Time Warner, which recently rejected Fox's initial $80 billion bid.

Fox owns 100 percent of Sky Italia, 57 percent of Sky Deutschland and 39 percent of BSkyB.

Facing the toughest market conditions in its 25-year history, BSkyB has decided that its future growth lies in creating a European pay-TV leader.

BSkyB said it would pay 2.45 billion pounds for Sky Italia and 2.9 billion pounds for Fox's 57 percent stake in Sky Deutschland to create a group with nearly 20 million customers.

The payment to Fox for Sky Italia will be made up of cash and BSkyB's stake in the National Geographic Channel.

Shares in BSkyB opened about 3.6 percent lower as shareholders digested the impact of the share placing.

The 25-year-old BSkyB, has grown to dominate the British pay-TV market, drawing more than 10 million homes with its programming including sports, movies and U.S. drama.

It now hopes to apply those lessons to Italy and Germany, where pay-TV is not yet as popular or profitable.


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