Sony TV eyes a 26% stake in Neo Sports


Sony Entertainment Television Asia India has offered to buy a 26% stake into Nimbus’ Neo Sports TV channel.

The SET board has approved the Rs 315 crore acquisition and Nimbus will consider the offer at a board meeting in mid-March.

“The international launch of Neo Sports presents an opportunity to ally with other strategic players. This may bring an additional set of possibilities for the globalisation of Neo Sports and expansion of Neo Sports Plus,” Nimbus Chairman Harish Thawani said.

SET�۪s cricket properties will be exhausted after the ICC World Cup that begins next month. Nimbus has the rights to telecast all international cricket played in India till 2010, while ESPN-Star Sports recently won an estimated $1.1 billion bid for ICC�۪s properties for the period starting late 2007 to 2015.

Sony will use the funds set aside for the abortive Ten Sports acquisition for the transaction with Nimbus. Sony had made a bid to acquire Ten Sports last year, but lost out to ZEE, which bought the channel for $57.15 million. Sony also refrained from bidding for the rights for ICC tournaments from 2007-2015, saying that the bidding war among channels was making the cost prohibitive.

As is known, Nimbus had earlier signed on STAR India as its exclusive distribution partner for both Neo Sports and Neo Sports Plus till 2010. The deal encompasses all distribution platforms, which includes analogue cable, direct-to-home and Internet broadband.

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