News Ltd sells New Zealand Sky TV stake

WELLINGTON, March 5 Mon Mar 4, 2013 2:37pm EST

WELLINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - News Corporation has sold its near 44 percent stake in New Zealand's dominant pay television operator, Sky Network Television Ltd, although no immediate details on the price were available, the companies said on Tuesday.

Sky TV said it had been informed that News had sold the shares to a range of institutional and retail investors.

The pay-television company's closing price on Friday was NZ$5.17. Media reports had suggested the shares were being sold at a discount of around 7 percent at NZ$4.80 each.

A trading halt imposed on Monday was lifted. The sale was handled by Deutsche Bank and Craig Investment Partners.

Sky offers about 100 television and radio channels and also operates free-to-air channel Prime Television. It also has a joint venture service with the state owned Television New Zealand, Igloo, with a mix of free-to-air and pay content.

Last month Sky TV reported a 7 percent rise in its first half profit, and an increased dividend.

The divesting ends nearly 50 year's presence of the Rupert Murdoch media empire in New Zealand, having been the single biggest shareholder in the former Independent Newspapers Ltd (INL), which also had a founding stake in Sky TV.

Last November, the second biggest shareholder, the locally held private concern Todd Communications, sold its 11 percent stake in Sky TV for NZ$5.05 each.

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