Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has announced plans to unload its 59% majority stake in local free-to-air broadcaster Antena 3.

The company said it would distribute as much as 30% of its shares in Antena 3 - the equivalent of 50 million shares with a company book value of Euros 420m - to Telefonica shareholders as dividends in kind.

However, the company also said it would launch an Initial Public Offer (IPO) later this year for Antena 3 and, if necessary to better IPO conditions, could reduce the dividend package.

Local reports suggest various third parties, notably Spanish publishing and media conglom Grupo Planeta, may also be circling the Telefonica shares.

Likely motivating Telefonica's move are new government regulations forbidding companies from owning shares in more than one broadcaster in Spain, meaning that in order for Telefonica to carry out its planned pay-TV merger with Sogecable both companies will have to unload their other TV interests.