Cable net to drive Speedvision but pay no tolls
By John M. Higgins -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/27/2001 8:00:00 PM
In an unusually elegant move, Fox Cable cut a deal to take control of racing network Speedvision by shuffling assets, not putting up any cash.
The deal will let Fox fully pair Speedvision with its Fox Sports national and regional networks. At the same time, content-hungry MSO Comcast Corp. gets full control of Speedvision's sister networks Outdoor Life and The Golf Channel, in which it had been a partial owner with Fox. In turn, Fox, selling its minority interests in Outdoor and Golf, uses the proceeds to buy out Speedvision's other minority partners: AT&T, Cox, founder Roger Werner and the estate of cable broker Bill Daniels.
Industry execs said the deal values Speedvision at $750 million, Outdoor Life at $400 million and Golf Channel around $350 million.
The deal is reminiscent of the one Comcast cut to take control of E!, in which Walt Disney Co. put up all the cash to buy out other investors but Comcast wound up running it.
Fox Cable President Jeff Shell said Outdoor Life was less interesting to Fox and there was no path to control the Golf Channel, in which Comcast already owned 60%.
"It ends up being a home run for us," he said. "We effect the whole thing without any cash."
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