News Corp. has agreed to buy Vivendi Universal's Telepiu direct-to-home
platform in Italy for a reported 1.5 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
News Corp. will retain about 50 percent of the merged platforms and will sell
the remaining shares to an outside investor, possibly Telecom Italia S.p.A.
Only last December, Vivendi agreed to buy Stream from News Corp. and merge it
with its own pay TV operation in Italy, Telepiu. But regulators imposed
conditions on that deal that Vivendi found unacceptable.
As part of the deal, News Corp. and Vivendi Universal have also agreed to end
contentious litigation between Canal+ Technologies and NDS Ltd. In a suit filed
in California, Canal+ accused NDS of helping hackers to crack codes protecting
its digital pay TV signals, producing more than $1 billion in damages.
The deal will help Vivendi Universal to reduce its massive debts and will
give News Corp. a dominant position in the Italian market. But regulators, who
have derailed other attempted mergers of the money-losing platforms, still must
approve the deal.