News Corp. Buys Out Disney's Stake in Asian Sports Network

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Published June 06, 2012

| FOXBusiness

News Corp. (NWSA) has inked a deal to buy out Walt Disney’s (DIS) 50% stake in Asian joint venture ESPN Star Sports, giving the New York-based media conglomerate full control of the unit.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a statement, Disney said the deal provides ESPN more independence and the flexibility needed to support growth efforts in Asia. The international sports network already operates ESPNCricinfo, the world’s leading digital cricket brand, as well as ESPNFC, a dedicated soccer network.

“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,” Disney Media Networks ESPN co-chairman John Skipper said in a statement.

James Murdoch, News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer and CEO of the international business, said the move reflects efforts to simplify the company’s operating model and consolidate affiliate ownership structures.

It “furthers our commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe,” Murdoch said, noting it also enhances News Corp.'s position in sports programming in emerging markets

News Corp. is the parent of a wide range of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones and FOX Business.

As part of the changes, long-time ESS managing director Manu Sawhney will step down. He will be replaced by Peter Hutton, currently the senior vice president of sports for FOX International channels, reporting directly to the ESS board.

News Corp. said Sawhney, who joined ESS’s marketing department in India in 1996 before heading its India business and eventually shifting to Singapore to run programming and marketing, will stay on board through Aug. 31 to help ensure a smooth transition.

Sawhney, who has served as managing director since 2007, acted as a “key architect of ESS’s growth,” according to executives from both News Corp. and ESPN International.

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