News Corp. continued its step-by-step acquisition of German pay TV platform Premiere on Friday, adding a further 2.8% for a total 22.7% share, solidifying its position as the feevee operator’s largest single shareholder.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. surprised the local industry when it took a 14.58% stake in January and then increased its holding to 19.9% the following month.
While Murdoch prefers to have controlling interests in his companies, News Corp. is unlikely to raise its stake beyond 30%, the bar at which German law demands the stakeholder offer to take over the company. Nearly half of Premiere’s total stock is publicly traded.
Murdoch and son James Murdoch, News Corp.’s chairman and chief exec for Europe and Asia, are certain to play a more active role in developing Premiere’s strategy.
The heavyweight support could not come at a better time.
Leo Kirch, who controls future marketing rights to top league Bundesliga soccer, Premiere’s most important programming asset, plans to produce and sell ready-to-air Bundesliga coverage. This will block Premiere from producing its own coverage and end its exclusive soccer deal.