MUMBAI: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is busy creating a global sports broadcasting powerhouse. Soon after buying out ESPN’s stake in Asian sports broadcasting joint venture ESPN Star Sports, it has now gobbled up James Packer’s stake in Fox Sports.
News Corp. has made a $1.99 billion bid for a complete takeover of Australian billionaire Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings, which holds 50 per cent of Fox Sports and 25 per cent of Foxtel.
The proposal, subject to regulatory approvals from Australian authorities, will give News Corp’s Australian subsidiary News Limited a complete ownership of Fox Sports with a 50 per cent stake in pay TV operator Foxtel.
Foxtel is half owned by Australian telecom and media company Telstra Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and Consolidated Media each holding a 25 per cent stake. Fox Sports is an equal joint venture partnership between Consolidated Media and News Corp.
Packer, son of late Kerry Packer, executive chairman of Consolidated Media's largest shareholder, said: "CPH welcomes News' proposal and looks forward to CMH and News working together to address the detailed terms and conditions. Subject to this CPH, considering the offer price of $3.50 per share to be fair, will support the Proposal in the absence of a superior cash offer."
The deal will give Packer the capital to build war chest for his capital intensive casino business. He owns stakes in casinos in Australia, London, Macau and Las Vegas.
News Corp also has big plans for the US market where it is planning to launch a national sports network on cable television to take on Walt Disney-owned network ESPN, the dominant player in that market.
The company is considering converting its action-sports network Fuel to the new channel that would compete not just with ESPN but also with NBC's and CBS's sports networks.
In Asia, it has already become the dominant pay TV operator
with the acquisition of ESPN’s stake in ESS.
Corp plans to take on Walt Disney's ESPN
Corp buys out Disneys stake in ESPN Star Sports