Saturday, December 22, 2007

News Corp. to Sell U.S. TV Stations for $1.1 Billion

News Corp., the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, agreed to sell eight of its Fox network-affiliated television stations in the U.S. to Oak Hill Capital Partners LP for about $1.1 billion in cash.

The sale probably will be completed in the third quarter, New York-based News Corp. said in a statement e-mailed today. The transaction leaves Fox with 27 owned-and-operated stations, the company said. Oak Hill will add the new stations to nine others it owns in eight midsize markets, according to its Web site.

``It is part of News Corp.'s strategic decision to shed low- growth, non-core assets,'' said Richard Dorfman, managing director of New York-based investment firm Richard Alan Inc., who doesn't own any shares. ``News Corp.'s focus today is much more on Internet properties, such as MySpace, and cable.''

Network television spending fell 3.8 percent and cable television revenue fell 0.3 percent in the first half from the year-earlier period, while spot advertising rose 3.2 percent, Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported.

``It was a classic private-equity play,'' Dorfman said. ``Oak Hill made a smart decision. Ad dollars are migrating to the Web, but it's a government-licensed franchise that can throw off good cash flow and reliably service debt for private equity firms.''

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