WELLINGTON, March 5 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.