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News Corp. Exits New Zealand Pay TV

DOWN: Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

The sale of Rupert Murdoch's 44 percent stake in Sky Network Television comes ahead of the split of his News Corp. business into publishing and film and TV arms this year.

SYDNEY -- News Corp.’s Australian subsidiary, News Limited, is selling its 44 percent stake in New Zealand pay-TV operation Sky Network Television ahead of the split of Rupert Murdoch’s global media group into separate publishing and film and TV businesses later this year.

The company’s shares were placed in a trading halt on the New Zealand stock exchange following the announcement on Monday local time. The stake, expected to be picked up by "a broad range of institutional and retail investors," will be offered at a discount to Friday’s closing price of NZ $5.17 ($4.19), according to NZ media  reports. The 44 percent stake is worth about $660 million.

Following the sales, News Limited will have no holding in Sky Network Television Limited.

Chase Carey, president and chief operating officer of News Corp., said in a statement: “Sky is a world-class subscription television business and has been an outstanding investment for News Corp. We and Sky have always enjoyed an excellent, arm's-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."

As a result of the sale, Michael Miller, regional director of News Limited, will resign from the board of Sky.

Sky owns and operates about 100 pay-TV and radio channels and the free-to-air channel Prime Television. Last month, the company posted a half-year net profit of $55.2 million, an increase of 9 percent on the prior corresponding period.

News Limited has appointed Deutsche Bank to underwrite and, with Craigs Investment Partners, manage the sale of its Sky shares.