April 26, 2012 / 7:45 PM / in 7 years

Hulu owners to buy out Providence for $200m - source

April 26 (Reuters) - Providence Equity Partners is in talks to sell its 10 percent stake in online video service Hulu to its co-owners for up to $200 million, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The early stage talks for the sale are with News Corp , Walt Disney Co and Hulu’s top management led by Jason Kilar.

The third media company co-owner, NBC Universal is not allowed to take part in any managerial decisions, under an agreement with U.S. regulators after Comcast Corp took control of NBC Universal last year.

The deal could value Hulu at a little less than $2 billion, a source said.

In 2007, Providence contributed $100 million for its stake in Hulu. Since then, Providence, along with its co-owners, have looked at various options for a financial exit including an initial public offering.

Last year, News Corp and Disney decided they wanted to retain their stakes in the business to ensure they have control of a fast-growing new distribution platform for TV programming.

Hulu, which started out primarily as a free site for users to catch up with many of their favorite shows on broadcast television, now has more than 2 million paying subscribers for its premium Plus service.

It has also taken a significant step toward building its own library of original content as a way to differentiate itself from competitors like Netflix Inc and to attract advertising dollars.

News of the Providence talks was first reported by Bloomberg.

News Corp, Disney, Comcast and Providence all declined to comment.

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