Financing boosts Setanta war chest

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LONDON -- Irish pay TV sportscaster Setanta has secured €315 million ($417.7 million) in financing to back its aggressive battle with BSkyB for sports viewers, it was announced Monday.

Setanta, which in May broke BSkyB's historic stranglehold over Premier League soccer by paying £392 million ($767.5 million) for two packages of live premier league soccer rights, owns a family of premium-priced sports channels that retail at about half the price of Sky's own Sky Sports package.

The financing agreements have been struck with Doughty Hanson & Co., Goldman Sachs International, Davy Stockbrokers and Adams Street Partners. The deal is subject to regulatory clearance.

Founder and joint CEO Leonard Ryan said the funding will help Setanta build up its business.

"We are delighted to have signed funding agreements, which, together with support from Benchmark, will allow us to build up our subscriber base and offer the best games to sports fans," he said.

The group, which is owned by Benchmark Capital, hopes to break even over three years and attract about 1 million subscriber homes.

It will launch a dedicated golf channel, Setanta Golf, in January and begin broadcasting Premier League soccer this summer.
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