LONDON, July 25 (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox said on Friday it would renew a share buyback programme using the proceeds from its partial exit from European pay-TV, regardless of any acquisitions the media group undertakes.
The company made the pledge in a statement announcing the sale of Fox’s Italian and German pay-TV units to BSkyB for $9 billion in cash and assets.
“This transaction significantly enhances liquidity on our balance sheet to support our key operating principles including the consistent return of capital to shareholders,” said the company in a statement.
“For fiscal 2015 we will continue our share buyback program and will communicate the details of a renewed share buyback authorization upon the announcement of fiscal 2014 earnings results on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.”
In August 2013, Fox’s board authorized a $4 billion share buyback over the next 12 months.
Murdoch, chairman and CEO, added: “Our renewed authorization for our share buyback program will be executed regardless of any potential acquisition or investment activity by the Company.”
Fox recently made an unsolicited $80 billion bid for media conglomerate Time Warner, which was rejected by its management as too low.
The 83 year-old mogul is expected to use the proceeds from his partial exit from Europe to fuel its pursuit of Time Warner, with some analysts expecting him to return with a higher bid.
Fox owns 100 percent of Sky Italia, 57 percent of Sky Deutschland and 39 percent of BSkyB. (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Kate Holton; Editing by David Holmes)