CBS Ups Ante for SportsLine - Broadcasting & Cable

CBS Ups Ante for SportsLine

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Minority owner Viacom Inc. has reached an agreement to purchase SportsLine.com (cbs.sportsline.com) for $1.75 per share, 25 cents more than it originally planned to pay and about $49 million for the 62% it didn't own.

The deal would give it control of yet another cross-marketing platform given SportsLine interest in various pro sports league and A-list athlete sites.
SportsLine had been looking to get bought at least since May, when it hired investment banker Perseus Group in San Francisco to solicit buyers, but Viacom was the obvious first stop given the co-branding.

Viacom-owned CBS has had its name prominently attached to the Web sports site thanks to a partnership that dates to 1997. That's when SportsLine began making annual payments to CBS in stock in exchange for the branding cachet of the network.

Viacom had built its stake to 38% before deciding to buy out the remainder. It had originally offered $1.50, but shareholders balked, filing suit, charging the price was too low.

The Web site has been up and running since 1995 and CBS has been involved since March 1997.

The company also hosts other sports Web sites, including PGAtour.com, NFL.com, ncaasports.com, and official celebrity sites for Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, John Daly, Shaq and Joe Namath.

The sweeter deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, is still subject to approval by shareholders.

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