News Corp increases stake in German TV channel Premiere
February 21st, 2008

News Corp, the flagship of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, said today it has increased its stake in German pay television channel Premiere to 19.9 percent from 14.6 percent. News Corp bought into Premiere last month amid speculation that the German company would become the object of a takeover.

“We’re looking forward to working constructively with Premiere’s management on the growth and future direction of the business,” James Murdoch, News Corp’s chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia, said in a statement. His father Rupert Murdoch took an initial stake in Premiere when the first German pay television station was launched in 1990 but then sold out in 2002.

Premiere has more than four million subscribers but operates in a competitive market where most homes are hooked up to cable networks. The pay-TV group hit hard times in late 2005 when it lost exclusive transmission rights to German first division football matches and recent takeover rumours have tipped the French group Vivendi as a potential bidder.

News Corp owns several holdings in European pay-TV companies, including 39 percent of BSkyB, the leading group in Britain. The giant company made headlines when it recently bought group Dow Jones and its flagship publication, the Wall Street Journal.

Shares in Premiere shot up 3.45 percent to 14.99 euros on speculation that News Corp would continue to buy into the company.

(Source: AFP)