News Corp. Issues $445 Million Loan to Sky Deutschland

[Satellite TODAY 08-04-10] News Corp. has issued 340 million euros ($446 million) in financing to help pay-TV subsidiary Sky Deutschland turn its fortunes around in the German broadcast market, the two companies announced August 2.
    The financing measures will consist of a rights offering of up to 269.6 million newly issued News Corp. shares, which may be combined with Sky Deutschland shares. News Corp. will have the right to convert the bond into equity at any time following a 40-day holding period, subject to certain blackout periods. This will be the third rights issue from News Corp. to Sky Deutschland in two years.
    Sky Deutschland has struggled in the German market since it acquired and re-branded Premiere in July 2009. The company projected to have 3 million to 3.4 million subscribers by the end of 2010. However, Sky Deutschland saw revenues and profits fall to 902.1 million euros ($1.22 billion) in 2009 from 941.1 million euros ($1.47 billion) in 2008 and registered a full-year net loss of 676.5 million euros ($913.2 million). At the end of February, the operator has 2.4 million subscribers.
    In a research note, UBS equity analyst Polo Tang said he believes the company may be getting on track under new CEO Brian Sullivan, formerly of BSkyB. Sky Deutschland’s “trends initially appear mixed, with weaker gross adds offset by better churn, but we believe Sky has reached an inflection point in operating momentum with some of the best operating metrics in four years suggesting the new management team is finally turning around the company.”
    Separately, Sky Deutschland announced it selected U.S. technology company Broadcom to provide its BCM7325 satellite set-top box system-on-a-chip solution to enable multi-channel HD and DVR functionality for Sky Deutschland subscribers.
The single-chip BCM7325 solution will power the next generation of HD non-DVR set-top boxes and support MPEG-4 integration with NDS MediaHighway set-top box software to enable a Flash-based user interface.
    “Broadcom’s advanced satellite set-top box technology provides best-in-class integration, performance and energy-efficiency, enabling us to offer our subscribers advanced functionality, while also reducing power and energy requirements in the home,” Sky Deutschland Senior Vice President of Technology Gerry Duffy said in a statement.

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