BSkyB to Take Control of Open


London-Direct-to-home platform British Sky Broadcasting Group plc agreed last week to take 80.1 percent control of the Open interactive walled-garden service, buying out stakes held by partners HSBC Bank plc and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.'s European unit.

BSkyB will pay the companies about $589 million in stock for their combined 35 percent stake.

British Telecommunications plc will reduce its stake in Open to 19 percent from 32.5 percent in exchange for BSkyB agreeing to meet the service's future funding requirements up to $374 million before operational breakeven is reached.

The deal gives BSkyB control over the modem in the BSkyB digital set-top box, and it frees the company from various noncompetition clauses with respect to Open.