Allen drops sports stake

Microsoft co-founder sells interest in net

LONDON — Billionaire Paul Allen is selling his stake in the North American Sports Network, a digital cable channel that broadcasts baseball, basketball, NASCAR and other U.S. sports in Europe.

The Microsoft co-founder, an original investor in NASN, is selling the 70% stake he holds through his investment firm, Vulcan European Media Holdings, and venture capital firm Benchmark Capital is coming in as an investor, the firms said on Wednesday.

Irish broadcaster and original NASN stakeholder Setanta Sports bought Allen’s stake and then sold a half to Benchmark Capital.

Financial terms of the deal, which must be approved by the Irish Competition Authority, were not disclosed.

NASN originally launched in the U.K. and Ireland in 2002 and has expanded into Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Iceland in the past year.

The network is available on pay TV platforms including satcaster BSkyB in the U.K. and Kabel Deutschland in Germany.