Sogecable tie-up completed

Telefonica gets 22.2% stake in company

MADRID — Spanish pay TV companies Sogecable and Via Digital formally finalized their merger Wednesday, with Via shareholders underwriting a Sogecable capital increase to the tune of 449.5 million euros ($525.9 million) at $15.80 a share.

Deal gives satcaster Via’s controlling shareholder Telefonica a 22.2% stake in Sogecable, with Via absorbed by Sogecable.

Spain’s Prisa and France’s Canal Plus Group hold 16.4% apiece in the new Sogecable but will exercise the same voting rights as Telefonica.

Sogecable will continue to be managed by Prisa.

The formal sign-off on the merger comes during a period of frenetic activity at Sogecable, which continues to hone the joint programming offerings of the new single digital TV platform, to be branded Digital Plus.

Sogecable has locked up TV rights to top Spanish soccer club Deportivo de la Coruna for the 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons; it sold its interest in lifestyle niche channel Estilo to Discovery Communications for a reported $17 million-$20 million and pacted with Spain’s National Organization for the Blind to create a new interactive channel.

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