Streamlining News sells off NZ network
News Corp continues to clean up its investment portfolio as it prepares to split into separate publishing and broadcast businesses, with the confirmation that it is selling its 44 per cent stake in New Zealand Pay TV provider Sky Network Television.
Sky put its shares into a trading halt while Deutsche Bank and Craigs Investment Partners managed the sale of the $700 million shares parcel on behalf of News Corp to institutional and retail investors.
"Sky is a world-class subscription television business and has been an outstanding investment," News Corp's chief operating officer Chase Carey said.
"We and Sky have always enjoyed an excellent, arms-length working relationship and we expect this to continue unaffected by the sale.
"In particular, we do not anticipate any change to current arrangements regarding access to content and collaboration on technology."
A spokeswoman for Sky said the media group had close dealings with News Corp before it became a shareholder and the same would be true in the future.
"We don't expect any impact to content deals," she said.
At an investment conference last week, News Corp executive James Murdoch said that, in the past couple of years, the company had been simplifying its operating model by either "consolidating minority positions" and "buying out of other minority positions".
He referred to the impending split as an example of this process.
"We think it just makes a much simpler environment, both from an operational standpoint, but also to align the operations with shareholders much more straightforwardly," he said.
Last year News Corp spent almost $2 billion buying Consolidated Media Holdings, which helped lift its stake in Australian pay-TV provider Foxtel to 50 per cent.
It will be the only TV asset to stay with the publishing business after the split, which will also comprise its Australian operation News Ltd, the British and US newspapers and book publisher HarperCollins.
The move is seen as an attempt to protect News Corp's more valuable film and broadcast assets from the hacking scandal engulfing its newspapers in Britain.
Last month, the company increased its stake in German pay-TV operator Sky Deutschland, giving it majority control of the broadcaster.
Mr Murdoch referred to the aborted attempt to buy the rest of British pay-TV provider BSKyB - called off due to the hacking scandal - as "unfinished business".
The company also is looking to build a national US sports cable network to compete against Disney's ESPN, sources said.