June 27, 2008 / 3:34 AM / 11 years ago

News Corp may bid on Premiere, Digital+ -WSJ

NEW YORK, June 26 (Reuters) - News Corp NWSa.N may bid for two major pay-TV players, Germany’s Premiere AG PREGn.DE and Spain’s Digital+, in a move that could give more responsibility to James Murdoch, son of Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Over the past six months, News Corp — which owns the Journal — has built a 25.01 percent stake in Munich-based Premiere and is considering making an offer for the whole company, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Even if News Corp. doesn’t make a bid, it wants to install its own managers in the company, the paper reported.

In Spain, media conglomerate Prisa SA is considering selling its Digital+ unit, one of the country’s biggest satellite broadcasters, the Journal reported.

The sale likely will begin by the end of July, the Journal reported, citing sources. Bidders could include Paris-based Vivendi SA (VIV.PA) and Spanish telecom groups Cableuropa SAU, which operates as ONO, and Telefonica SA (TEF.MC), the Journal said, adding that ONO and Telefonica declined to comment.

A person close to News Corp told the Journal that no action was imminent and there is no certainty News Corp. will try to buy either company.

News Corp officials were not immediately available for comment.

The two satellite broadcasters together would likely cost more than 4 billion euros, or $6.3 billion, the Journal said.

The move would be a return of sorts to Germany for News Corp, which lost more than 2 billion euros there six years ago on its investment in Kirch Group, a media company and pay-TV provider that went bankrupt, the Journal reported.

If News Corp bought the companies, they would become the responsibility of 35-year-old James Murdoch, head of News Corp’s European and Asian operations and widely seen as his father’s heir, the Journal reported.

On Wednesday, the European Union cleared News Corp to buy the company on the condition that other operators are allowed to use Premiere’s satellite platform, the Journal said. (Reporting by Kenneth Li and Robert MacMillan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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