Sky Deutschland's share price plummeted last year

BERLIN — News Corp. upped its share in German pay TV company Sky Deutschland (formerly Premiere) from 30.5% to 39.96% on Wednesday.

The company said it bought more shares to take advantage of favorable prices but did not plan to raise its stake any further. More than 60% of the pay TV group is publicly traded.

Share prices for Premiere, rebranded Sky Deutschland in July, have plummeted 73% in the past year but jumped 13% following news of the acquisition, reaching E3.57 ($5.14) before settling at $4.94.

News Corp. took a 14.6% stake in Premiere in January 2008. It bailed out the feevee in December after agreeing to a $575 million share sale that allowed it to renegotiate terms on $670 million of debt.

The rescue helped persuade Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin to exempt News Corp. from a German law stipulating that a shareholder must make a takeover bid for a company if it crosses the 30% threshold, since Premiere was in dire need of restructuring.

News Corp. now controls the main satellite pay TV platforms in the U.K. (BSkyB), Italy (Sky Italia) and Germany, creating speculation that topper Rupert Murdoch may try to create a pan-European pay TV company to cut costs and increase negotiation power in the acquisition of sports and movie rights.

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