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Asia’s CNBC, ABN in talks

HONG KONG — After several years as sometimes acrimonious competitors, Asia’s money-losing business news channels CNBC and ABN are huddling over a deal that would see them combine operations.

“Nothing’s been signed yet,” said Asia Business News spokeswoman Jane Scholes. “I know discussions are going on, but there’s no deal.”

On behalf of NBC Asia, spokeswoman Irena Masiulanis offered a “no comment” as well as an acknowledgment that the rumor mill is firing on all cylinders.

There is no word whether a deal would put one station out of business or merge the two channels, which now compete head-to-head in most markets.

NBC Asia, a unit of NBC, has 250 employees and operates the CNBC business channel and an NBC entertainment channel from its Hong Kong headquarters. The 24-hour channels are distributed via satellite, cable and terrestrial outlets in all of Asia’s major markets.

The business channel went on the air in June 1995 and claims to reach more than 35 million households.

ABN, which is headquartered in Singapore, recently marked its fourth anniversary, so it promotes itself as the more established of the duo.

ABN claims that it can be received by 20 million households in Asia and 7.5 million cable households in the U.S. via the International Channel.

Dow Jones & Co. and TCI jointly own ABN.

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