BSkyB amps online with 365 buy


LONDON -- BSkyB has moved to bolster its fast-growing interactive betting business will the acquisition of online sports information and gaming group 365 Media for £96 million cash ($187 million), it was announced Friday.

365 Media operates a slew of gambling and sports portals including Football365, Cricket365, Sportinglife and Planet Rugby that attract over 9 million monthly users.

BSkyB's existing Sky Bet business, which offers gaming and gambling services generated £37 million ($72 million) last year from bets totaling £341 million ($665 million).

The satcaster aims to increase its betting business on the back of new services offered via its new broadband service, which is predicted to connect to 3 million customers by the end of the decade.

BSkyB is paying £0.68 ($1.33) per share, a 6% premium on 365 Media's closing price Thursday but a 23% premium on the share price in early October. The deal will be financed from Sky's existing cash resources.

"The acquisition of 365 Media will contribute to Sky's aim of being a leading provider of online sports and gaming services," BSkyB finance director Jeremy Darroch said. "Bringing together 365 Media's extensive network of sports and gaming Web sites with our own Sky Sports and SkyBet businesses will allow us to reach a broader audience. This will give us greater presence in online advertising and will position us to take full advantage of growing opportunities in gaming."