Star to cut Phoenix stake

But IPO to fuel shot at dominance in Chinese TV

HONG KONG — Star TV will reduce its stake in Phoenix Satellite Television from 45% to 38.25% as the Chinese TV operator prepares to float on the Growth Enterprise Market. But the News Corp. subsidiary, together with Today’s Asia, will remain a major shareholder.

The IPO is expected to raise about $85 million to $120 million, which will go to creating new channels, boosting production and setting up a Web portal.

“Our vision is to become a dominant content provider of Chinese television programs through satellite, cable redistribution and the Internet, targeting the greater China area and the Chinese-speaking communities around the world,” Phoenix chief Liu Changle said.

Phoenix is one of the few foreign satellite TV operators broadcasting into China, with a reach of 305 million households. However, the station relies heavily on operational support from Star TV, which has an ownership interest in three Chinese-language channels that can be received in China: ESPN Asia, Star Sports Asia and Channel V North Asia.

While admitting Star TV is a potential rival, Liu said, “The strength and experience of our shareholders — Star TV, Today’s Asia and China Wise — have been an important element to the growth of Phoenix Television, and we will continue to leverage their expertise to build out business.”

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