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News Corp. raises stake in German pay-TV Premiere

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11:36 CEST+02:00
US media giant News Corporation said on Monday it has raised its stake in German pay-television operator Premiere to 25.01 percent, the second increase since buying into the firm in January.

"News Corporation today announced it has secured additional shares in leading German pay-TV operator, Premiere AG, increasing its total stake to 25.01 percent," the company said without providing additional details.

News Corp. first bought into Premiere in January amid speculation that the German company would become the object of a takeover. The sprawling media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch announced in February it had increased its stake to 19.9 percent from 14.6 percent.

"We're looking forward to working constructively with Premiere's management on the growth and future direction of the business," James Murdoch, the son Murdoch and News Corp.'s chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia, said at the time.

News Corp. took an initial stake in Premiere when the first German pay-television station was launched in 1990 but sold it in 2002.

Premiere has more than four million subscribers but operates in a competitive market where most homes are hooked up to cable networks. The pay-TV group hit hard times in late 2005 when it lost exclusive transmission rights to German first division football matches and recent takeover rumors have tipped the French group Vivendi as a potential bidder.

News Corp. owns several holdings in European pay-TV companies, including BSkyB, the leading group in Britain.

The giant company last year Dow Jones & Company and its flagship publication, the Wall Street Journal. News Corp. had total assets of $62 billion and total annual revenues of $32 billion, as of March 31.

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