TPG pays Murdoch unit $265m for Chinese media company stake

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - US private equity firm TPG Capital will pay HK$1.66 billion (S$265.4 million) for 21st Century Fox-controlled Star Entertainment's remaining stake in a Chinese satellite television operator.

The move is the next step of Mr Rupert Murdoch's slow exit from Chinese media, following News Corp's sale of controlling stakes in three mainland television channels to domestic private equity funds in 2010.

In a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange late on Friday, Phoenix Satellite Television said TPG China Media will become a "substantial shareholder" after taking over Star's entire 12.15 per cent stake. With the sale, Star representatives will also step down from Phoenix's board.

The deal was announced on the same day that Mr Murdoch was re-elected chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox despite protests from shareholder groups who sought to separate the chairman and chief executive positions of the family-dominated company.

Mr Murdoch split News Corp into two companies in May, with News Corp retaining the newspaper and other media assets and Fox holding the movie, TV and other entertainment properties.

Star, a Fox unit, sold its 607 million shares in Phoenix at HK$2.73 per share or a 2.5 per cent discount to its HK$2.80 closing price on Friday. No other financial details were disclosed. Fox was Phoenix's third-largest investor, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Founded in 1992, TPG was among the first US-based private equity firms to establish operations in Asia. The firm's other China investments include the country's best known sportswear brand Li Ning, investment bank China International Capital Corp and speciality packaging company HCP Holdings.

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