* Consolidated shareholders approve $2.1 bln takeover
* Deal will boost pay-TV revenues for News Corp publishing
* Sale marks billionaire Packer's exit from media
By Victoria Thieberger
MELBOURNE, Oct 31 Rupert Murdoch's News Corp
boosted its share of Australia's pay-TV market after
shareholders in Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd voted
in favour of a A$2 billion ($2.1 billion) takeover offer from
The deal will double the stake of News Corp's Australian arm
in dominant pay-TV operator Foxtel to 50 percent and give it 100
percent of content provider Fox Sports, increasing its pay-TV
exposure at the same time as it cuts costs at its print
Consolidated Media said shareholders at a meeting on
Wednesday voted 99.9 percent in favour of the takeover.
Its board had backed the offer.
"Foxtel and Fox Sports are going to be two cornerstone
assets in the News Corp publishing business after the demerger,
and I assume the market will put fairly healthy multiples on
those assets," said Citi analyst Justin Diddams.
News Corp announced plans in June to split the $60 billion
media conglomerate into two publicly traded companies,
publishing and entertainment. The split will take about a year
The publishing arm will include Australian newspaper The
Australian, UK newspapers The Times and The Sun, The Wall St
Journal, book publisher Harper Collins, and pay-TV assets
including Fox Sports, Foxtel and Sky TV New Zealand.
After the takeover of Consolidated, pay-TV -- including
affiliates such as Foxtel -- would contribute 39 percent of
News Corp's publishing company revenues in fiscal 2014, CLSA
analyst Digby Gilmour said in a note to clients last week.
Gilmour estimated that Fox Sports would contribute 11
percent of publishing group earnings before interest, tax and
depreciation in fiscal 2014, while the half-share of Foxtel
would contribute 17 percent.
The Consolidated Media deal also clears the way for
billionaire James Packer, who held a 50.1 percent stake in the
firm, to exit his last big media venture as he focuses on
Packer, who has built stakes in casinos in Australia, London
and Macau, owns casino group Crown Ltd which is hoping
to build a casino in Sydney, the second casino for the city.
News Corp's Australian listed shares rose 0.3
percent, while the broader market rose 0.7 percent.