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BSkyB hedges bets

Company invests in online sports, gambling

BSkyB, Europe’s leading paybox, has again hit the acquisition trail, this time buying online sports and betting combo 365 Media Group for £96 million ($182 million).

365 Media runs a range of gambling and sports Web sites including Football365, Cricket365, Sportinglife and Planet Rugby.

BSkyB, highly rated for its sports coverage, hopes the move will complement its existing sports activities and growing betting business, and make its emerging broadband offer more attractive.

“The acquisition of 365 Media will contribute to Sky’s aim of being a leading provider of online sports and gaming services,” said Jeremy Darroch, BSkyB’s finance director.

BSkyB recently became the largest stockholder of commercial TV rival ITV and also acquired broadband operator Easynet.

Meanwhile, the satcaster’s programmer James Baker is ankling following a decade at BSkyB.

Baker, a former controller of Sky One, is joining intellectual property and development fund Fleming Media.

His move follows the announcement of the departure of Sky Networks’ managing director Dawn Airey.

Other senior executives are poised to quit BSkyB in the wake of Airey’s resignation.