Fox Cable Networks Group is on the verge of acquiring all of Speedvision,
agreeing to a series of transactions with Comcast Corp. that will give Fox
control of the racing channel in return for its interests in The Golf Channel
and Speedvision's sister cable channel, Outdoor Life Network.
According to the deal, Fox will sell its 30.9 percent interest in Golf to
Comcast for an undisclosed sum. In addition, Fox agreed to sell its interest in
OLN for another undisclosed amount of cash after Fox has consummated deals to
buy out Speedvision's other partners.
It is expected that the proceeds from the sales will give Fox enough cash to
buy out the other partners.
Fox purchased its 34 percent interest in Speedvision in 1998 for about $90
million. It purchased its Golf stake in 1996 for about $50 million.
Fox has been negotiating with Comcast for the past couple of months for
Comcast's 15 percent Speedvision interest. In March, the other partners in
Speedvision/OLN -- AT&T Corp., Cox Communications Inc., the estate of cable
pioneer Bill Daniels and Speedvision founder and president Roger Werner --
agreed to 'put' their interests in Speedvision/OLN to Fox. Fox already owns 34
percent of Speedvision/OLN.
Each of the other parties has hired investment bankers to value their
respective stakes in Speedvision/OLN. According to sources, the preliminary
values for the entire network range from $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion. Those
same sources said the negotiations with the other partners could be wrapped up
Once Fox has acquired those interests, it would either sell its aggregate 83
percent stake in OLN to Comcast, or put that interest to the Philadelphia-based
After the deals are completed, Fox will own 100 percent of Speedvision.
Comcast will end up with 91.6 percent of Golf -- Times Mirror owns the other 8.4
percent -- and possibly 100 percent of OLN.
Fox has been interested in Speedvision ever since it landed the rights to
carry National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing programming in 1999. Fox
hopes to use Speedvision as another outlet for NASCAR programming.
Speedvision is available in 39 million homes and OLN is available in about 36