Scripps Networks Interactive and Virgin Media announced the agreement today. UKTV is one of Britain’s leading multichannel TV programming companies. Scripps Networks will pay about $390M to purchase Virgin Media’s 50% common equity interest in the UKTV partnership and also will pay about $163M to buy the outstanding preferred stock and debt owed by UKTV to Virgin Media. BBC Worldwide is the other 50% stakeholder in UKTV. Completion of the transaction is contingent on regulatory approvals in the Republic of Ireland and Jersey. UKTV is a significant opportunity for Scripps to participate in a thriving multichannel dual-revenue stream media biz in one of the world’s largest television markets, according to Kenneth Lowe, Chairman/President/CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive. “Making a solid investment in UKTV and entering into a strong partnership with BBC Worldwide reinforces our core international strategy which we believe will create significant long-term value for our shareholders.” Related to the transaction, Scripps Networks Interactive and BBC Worldwide are negotiating an agreement whereby, after completion, BBC Worldwide would have the option, via a combination of cash and a package of digital rights for UKTV, to increase its shareholding from 50% to a maximum of 60%. Scripps’ existing voting rights and board representation would be unaffected by this proposed arrangement, which would be subject to BBC Executive and BBC Trust approvals.
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