Apparently unmoved by the prospect of links with Vivendi Universal, Rupert Murdoch yesterday filed details of Sky Global Networks with the US Securities & Exchange Commission ahead of a float in the US.
Murdoch is creating the world's largest pay-TV operation by rolling into a single company all his satellite broadcast assets, including BSkyB in the UK, SkyPerfecTV in Japan, Stream in Italy and other broadcast operations in Latin America. Also included are TV Guide and technology company NDS.
By listing Sky Global Networks, previously dubbed Platco, Murdoch would be able to raise fresh cash for internet investment or to use shares for acquisitions. Analysts say the new company could be valued at some $36bn. That is despite proforma operating losses of $156m in the year to June and ongoing losses of $100m at the long troubled Star TV network in Asia.
The decision to include Stream appears to rule out an easy relationship with Vivendi Universal, which owns rival Italian pay-platform Telepiu. Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier, who controls a 21% stake in BSkyB, recently said it would be unthinkable for him to be indirectly invested in a competitor enterprise.
Speaking in Paris yesterday, Messier said: "after this combination [the three way merger of Vivendi, Canal Plus and Seagram] it's worth even more for us to discuss [collaboration with News Corp] than it was previously." Messier is apparently keen for News Corp to distribute content through Vizzavi, a new generation internet portal it launched this week as a joint venture with mobile phone giant Vodafone.
Sky Global Networks is estimated to be capable of delivering pay-TV services to some 85 million homes. Vizzavi will be the default browser for some 80 million subscribers.