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Telstra and News Ltd are said to be eying a further 25% stake in Pay TV giant as James Packer looks to sell up.

20120503040639b4d19 300x300 Telstra To Pounce Packers 25% Foxtel?
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The move could see Telstra who currently own 50% of Foxtel, along with News Limited and Consolidated Media Holding, both of whom hold a 25% stake, dramatically increase its ownership of the Pay TV giant.

Packer, who owns a 50% stake in Consolidated Media Holdings is said to be about to sell his Foxtel stake, as he looks to focus on his casino interests, eyeing a potential merger between Crown Casino in Melbourne and Sydney’s newly revamped Star.

News Limited are also toying with the idea of increasing its ownership in Foxtel, reports The Australian.

Telstra CEO David Thodey recent declared his telco could be interested in increasing its stake in Foxtel pushing its ownership to 75%, making News the minority shareholder.

But according to The Australian, News Limited would have “first rights” to purchase the stake held by Consolidated Media.

And any purchase by Telstra would have the competition watchdog sniffing around, something which Thodey noted when asked by investors recently:

“If James Packer was selling that asset, yes we would consider it but there are many things we need to consider — the regulator, the price and what we would do with it in the future,” he said.

The sale process is said to have commenced in the last month, although there has been no formal soundings on any sale.

Mr Packer could ask for $4 per share, pushing the sale price towards the $1bn mark.

 

Foxtel’s future also looks significantly brighter since its recent $2bn bid for regional player Austar was approved by the ACCC.

Telstra have been expanding their digital media business of late and have established a separate business to deal solely with its multimedia interests including video, so more control over Foxtel content could be very useful.

The telco did not reply to comment when contacted by Smarthouse.

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