Disney, Hearst Agree to Buy AETN Stake for $3 Billion

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The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Communications have agreed to purchase NBC Universal's 15% interest in A&E Television Networks for $3 billion, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday.

According to the filing, Disney and Hearst, partners in AETN with NBCU, agreed to purchase the stake for cash on July 9. After the deal is closed, Disney and Hearst will each own 50% of AETN, which includes A&E Network, Bio, Crime & Investigation Network, Military History and History, which has been racking up ratings gains, including the record-setting miniseries, Hatfields and McCoys.

NBCU has had the right to put its interest in AETN to its partners since 2009, part of the agreement that combined AETN with cable channel Lifetime. In its 10-Q quarterly financial statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May, NBCU said it would exercise its right to require AETN to purchase its interest. The deal was expected to close in the second half of this year, according to the 10-Q. At the time it valued its AETN stake at about $2 billion.

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