Satellite television services provider Austar has acknowledged speculation that its larger rival, Foxtel, is mulling a takeover. In a market announcement, Austar said it had understood that there had been verbal discussions between Foxtel and controlling Austar shareholder Liberty Media in relation to a possible acquisition. But it added that it had not received a proposal, and that there was no guarantee that the discussions will lead to one.
The company was responding to reports claiming that Foxtel’s largest shareholder, Telstra, had leant its considerable weight to the potential deal. Telstra has blocked Foxtel’s attempts at an Austar takeover twice previously – in 2005 and 2007.
Austar has around 760,000 subscribers, a bit less than half of Foxtel’s estimated total. Any deal could face scrutiny from regulators, as a combined entry would be left with little meaningful competition in the pay TV market.