NBC buys Sparrowhawk

NBC Universal has agreed to acquire Sparrowhawk and its global portfolio of pay TV channels, including the international Hallmark Channels, from Providence Equity Partners, 3i and management shareholders.

The announcement was made by Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, NBC Universal and David Elstein, Chairman, Sparrowhawk Media. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a price of £175 million (E253m) has been reported.

Under the terms of the agreement, NBC Universal will acquire the 18 feeds of the international Hallmark Channels, which air across 152 territories to more than 60 million subscribers in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Latin America and Asia.

The acquisition by NBC Universal represents a step forward in its strategic commitment, announced in April, to more than double the size of its international cable channels in the next two to three years. Sparrowhawk's channel brands will be added to NBCU's extensive portfolio, which includes the Sci-Fi, 13th Street, Studio Universal and Universal Channel brands.

Upon completion, the agreement will augment NBCU Global Networks to more than 30 channels in total, with ongoing plans to expand to more than 50 channels over the next 2-3 years.

On completion of the transaction, operations will be merged into NBC Universal's Global Networks division and managed by Roma Khanna, its newly appointed President of Global Networks & Digital Initiatives. Titles in the Sparrowhawk library will be managed by NBC Universal's television sales division, headed by Belinda Menendez, President, NBC Universal International Television Distribution.

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