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NBCU Acquires Sparrowhawk Holdings

Aug 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal is more than doubling its international cable stable with an agreement to acquire Sparrowhawk Holdings and its portfolio of 18 non-U.S. Hallmark pay TV channels — channels that reach 60 million subscribers in 152 territories in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Latin America and Asia.
Providence Equity Partners and 3i, the leading owners of the company better known as Sparrowhawk Media, will sell all of the Sparrowhawk shares to NBCU. However, no further terms of the deal were disclosed Tuesday in or after the announcement made by NBCU President and CEO Jeff Zucker, NBCU International President Peter Smith and Sparrowhawk Chairman David Elstein.
The Sparrowhawk properties to be acquired include non U.S. versions of the Hallmark Channel, Movies 24, Diva TV and Sparrowhawk’s stake in the new KidsCo joint venture with DIC Entertainment and Nelvana Enterprises, as well as the company’s broadcast facility in Denver, Colo., and international distribution rights to more than 580 titles in the Sparrowhawk International Library (formerly the Crown Media/Hallmark Library).
No further terms of the deal were divulged.
The Sparrowhawk deal will take NBCU International’s stable of channels from 12 to 30 and is projected to produce double-digit revenues increases for NBCU International in 2008, a spokeswoman said.
Mr. Zucker had made a strategic commitment last April to more than double the size of NBCU’s international portfolio — which includes the Sci-Fi, 13th Street, Studio Universal and Universal Channel brands — in the next two to three years.
According to the announcement, Mr. Zucker’s goal is for the NBCU International Global Networks unit to expand to more than 50 channels in the next two to three years.
“It is another step, among several we will take in the next year, to transform our entire portfolio, with an eye toward high-growth areas,” Mr. Zucker said in the announcement. “Our combined assets will now allow us to build leading global brands and create scale in the international marketplace. The Hallmark Channels’ geographic breadth is of particular importance to us, as it will bolster our position in existing markets and boost our growth in Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.”
On completion of the transaction, Sparrowhawk operations will be merged into NBC Universal’s Global Networks division and managed by Roma Khanna, the newly appointed president of Global Networks & Digital Initiatives. Titles in the Sparrowhawk library will be managed by NBCU’s television sales division, headed by Belinda Menendez, president of NBCU International Television Distribution.
The announcement did not say when the deal is expected to close, other than following customary regulatory approvals.

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