News Corp selling Sky New Zealand stake

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp announced on Monday it will sell its 44 per cent stake in New Zealand's Sky Network Television for a reported NZ$815 million (S$834 million).

In a statement, News Corp's Australian arm News Limited, which owns the stake in New Zealand's largest subscription television provider, said shares would be offered to a range of institutional and retail investors.

"Following the sales, News Limited will no longer have any holding in Sky Network Television Limited," it said.

The statement did not provide any figures on the sale but The Australian newspaper, part of the News Limited stable, said shares were being offered at NZ$4.80 each, giving the stake a value of NZ$815 million.

Trading in Sky shares was halted Monday after closing at NZ$5.17 on Friday.

News Corp president Chase Carey described Sky's New Zealand operation as "a world-class business" which had been an outstanding investment for his company.

"We and Sky have always enjoyed an excellent, arms-length working relationship and we expect this to continue unaffected by the sale," he said.

"In particular, we do not anticipate any change to current arrangements regarding access to content and collaboration on technology." Sky reported a nine per cent rise in interim net profit last month as customers signed up to premium services such as the "MySky" digital recording device.

News Corp is in the process of splitting its global operations into two, one with the fast-growing film and television units, to be named Fox Group, and the other - retaining the News Corp. name - managing news and publishing assets.

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