Premiere scores with Arena deal

Pact gives German paybox soccer rights

BERLIN — German paybox Premiere reached a surprise deal with upstart rival Arena on Thursday that allows it to broadcast more Bundesliga soccer matches in exchange for giving Arena a 16.7% stake in Premiere. The deal sent Premiere shares soaring 20% to more than Euros 18 ($23.40).

Premiere’s share price had halved in one dramatic day in December 2005 to around Euros 12 ($15.60) when Arena, subsidiary of cable group Unity Media, snatched the Bundesliga rights away from Premiere.

Premiere, which had made the German soccer coverage the cornerstone of its operations, said it could now distribute and market the Bundesliga soccer channel across Germany on satellite.

Deal also allows Premiere to offer Bundesliva matches live on cable in 14 of Germany’s 16 states. In return, Premiere will issue 16.4 million new shares, worth about Euros 300 million ($390 million), to Arena.

Despite their intense rivalry in the bidding for the Bundesliga rights, Arena and Premiere began their partnership in July. Premiere agreed to broadcast Arena’s Bundesliga coverage in 14 states for a fee.

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