News Corp eyes Spanish pay-TV play

Rupert Murdoch is about to take his big chance finally to break into the Spanish pay-TV market, according to local reports. News Corp and Telefonica are holding negotiations to acquire the majority of stakes in digital DTH platform Canal Plus, owned by media group Prisa TV, shared by the Spanish telco company Telefonica.

Both companies would jointly acquire a 56 per cent share in the pay-TV group in which Telefonica already holds a 22 per cent share. The problem is that Telefonica does not want to pay more than €900 million for those shares, a price lower than the valuation of €3.8 billion made by the banks for 100 per cent of the company. It is also lower than the €470 million amount Telefonica paid in 2009 for a 22 per cent share in Canal Plus,  amounting to a value of €2.1 billion for the whole operation.

Currently, Prisa TV is in a hurry to sell shares in Canal Plus as it has a debt of over €3 billion. A News Corp move into Canal Plus would represent Murdoch’s first foray into the Spanish pay-TV market. It is not the first time that News Corp, whose board members include Jose María Aznar, a former president of the Spanish Government, has sought to take over Canal Plus. Back in 2008, Murdoch made an unsuccessful bid of €2.5 billion for the company.

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