BSkyB to pay €6.18 billion in cash to create Sky Europe

British company to buy Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV assets Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia

 Britain’s BSkyB has agreed to pay £4.9 billion (€6.18 billion) in cash to buy Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. Photo: PA Wire

Britain’s BSkyB has agreed to pay £4.9 billion (€6.18 billion) in cash to buy Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. Photo: PA Wire

 

Britain’s BSkyB has agreed to pay £4.9 billion (€6.18 billion) in cash to buy Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy, responding to slowing growth at home by creating a European media powerhouse.

BSkyB, in which Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is also the top shareholder, will pay for the deal using cash, debt and a placing of shares that represents around 10 percent of its issued share capital.

21st Century Fox is expected to use the proceeds from its partial exit from Europe to fuel its pursuit in the United States of Time Warner, which recently rejected Fox’s initial $80 billion bid.

Fox owns 100 per cent of Sky Italia, 57 per cent of Sky Deutschland and 39 per cent of BSkyB.

Facing the toughest market conditions in its 25-year history, BSkyB has decided that its future growth lies in creating a European pay-TV leader.

BSkyB said it would pay £2.45 billion for Sky Italia and £2.9 billion for Fox’s 57 per cent stake in Sky Deutschland to create a group with nearly 20 million customers.

The payment to Fox for Sky Italia will be made up of cash and BSkyB’s stake in the National Geographic Channel.

Shares in BSkyB opened about 3.6 per cent lower as shareholders digested the impact of the share placing.

The 25-year-old BSkyB, has grown to dominate the British pay-TV market, drawing more than 10 million homes with its programming including sports, movies and US drama.

It now hopes to apply those lessons to Italy and Germany, where pay-TV is not yet as popular or profitable.

The deal requires BSkyB and its shareholders to make sacrifices, however.

BSkyB said it expected its credit rating to be downgraded after the deal. It pledged to bring its debt ratio back down “in the medium-term” to two times earnings before interest, tax, debt, and amortisation (EBITDA). As a result, the group said it would not resume share buybacks or do any further acquisitions until its leverage target was achieved.

Under German takeover law, BSkyB will have to make an offer for the rest of Sky Deutschland. The offer will be at €6.75 per share, compared to the 6.66 euros Sky Deutschland closed at on Thursday.

Reuters