News Corp. raises its stake in Premiere

Holds 30.5% of German pay TV operator

COLOGNE, Germany -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has upped its stake in Premiere again. Thanks to a recent share issue it now holds 30.5% of the troubled German pay TV operator.

Normally, German law requires companies that exceed the 30% barrier to submit a buyout offer to minority shareholders but News Corp. was able to secure an exemption to the rule.

Premiere on Tuesday completed a new share issue that brought in €412 million ($533 million), cash that CEO Mark Williams plans to put toward restructuring and program acquisitions at the channel. News Corp. bought up just under a third of the new shares, with the bulk acquired by outside investors.

"The high take-up rate is a strong sign of confidence from our shareholders," Williams said. "The capital increase is a fundamental step for Premiere. We are now in a position to build a successful pay TV business in Germany and Austria."

The new shares are expected to be included in regular trading by Friday. Premiere stock was up 2% midday Wednesday at €1.56 ($2).
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