Virgin Media sells £340m UKTV stake

 
Steve Dinneen
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VIRGIN MEDIA yesterday said it is selling its 50 per cent stake in UKTV to US operator Scripps Networks Interactive for up to £340m.

The deal means Virgin, which sold Bravo and Virgin 1 to rival Sky last year for £160m, no longer owns any TV content. The firm, which has been mulling a sale of its UKTV stake for around a year, was trading up 3.5 per cent in New York yesterday. Its minority UK listing was also up two per cent.

Scripps, which operates a string of US lifestyle channels, will pay £239m for Virgin’s half of the venture’s common equity interest and an additional £100m to acquire the outstanding preferred stock and debt owed to Virgin.

UKTV operates channels including Dave and GOLD and is home to stars such as David Jason, Jeremy Clarkson, detective Rebus and Nigella Lawson (pictured).

Following the deal, BBC Worldwide will increase its stake in the venture to 60 per cent through a complex cash and digital rights deal with Scripps.

Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett said his firm will now focus on its digital network and entertainment services. A Virgin spokesman said the firm will continue to invest up to £500m a year on programming through deals with content providers.