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News Corp buys ESPN Star Sports stake

This will allow News Corp to operate all ESS businesses while providing ESPN more independence.

Written by Agencies | Mumbai |
June 6, 2012 5:11:00 pm

News Corporation and ESPN today announced an agreement,under which a unit of the USD 61 billion global media company will buy the latter’s 50 per cent equity stake in ESPN STAR Sports (ESS).

The transaction will allow News Corporation units to own and operate all of the ESS businesses while providing ESPN more independence and flexibility in future support of The Walt Disney Company’s overall efforts in Asia,a media release said.

“News Corporation’s acquisition of the interest of ESS that we did not already own,continues the program of simplifying our operating model,consolidating our affiliate ownership structures and furthers our commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe and particularly enhancing our position in sports programming in emerging markets,” said James Murdoch,Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and CEO International,News Corporation.

“After 16 years jointly managing ESS,we have decided to independently pursue future opportunities in Asia,” said John Skipper,President of ESPN and Co-Chairman,Disney Media Networks.

“We are extremely proud of our role in building ESS into what it is today,and now with the growing digital landscape in Asia,we look forward to continuing to serve Asian sports fans through ESPN-branded digital businesses like ESPNCricinfo,the leading digital cricket brand in the world,ESPNFC and ESPN Mobile,” he said.

News Corporation and ESPN also announced that Manu Sawhney,Managing Director of ESS,will leave way for Peter Hutton to take over his responsibilities. Hutton is currently Senior Vice President of sports for Fox International Channels.

Sawhney,who had joined ESS’s marketing department in India in 1996,will be staying with the Company until August 31 to work with Hutton on a smooth transition,the release said.

During his career at ESS,he has been responsible for various functions across the company,including sales,distribution,programming,acquisition,marketing and network presentation,the release said.

“In his 16 years with the company,Manu has been a key architect of ESS’s growth and his contributions since its inception have helped ESS become a leading sports media company in Asia,bringing world class events — from the ICC Cricket World Cup to the London 2012 Olympic Games — to fans across the region.

“He led ESS’ expansion to 24 countries across multiple platforms and networks,including launching STAR Cricket,ESPN HD,STAR Cricket HD,ESPNEWS and ESPN Player. We are very grateful to him for his significant contributions to the company during his time in India and Singapore,” said Jan Koeppen,COO Europe and Asia,News Corporation and Russell Wolff,Executive Vice President and Managing Director,ESPN International.

“Peter is a very talented sports media executive,and we believe his extensive experience in sports rights and production will serve ESS well as the business enters into a new phase of development,” they added.

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