Confirmed: Murdoch sells 44% Sky TV stake for $815.3M in discounted placement

Shares in trading halt. UPDATED

Sky Television's biggest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch's News Limited, is selling its 44% stake.

LATEST: Why News' sell-off is good for Sky TV

Sky TV has obtained a trading halt for up to two days to enable the transaction to occur.

The company has confirmed a placement underwritten and managed by Deutsche Bank and Craigs Investment Partners. The $4.80 price was later published in a substantial shareholder notice. The shares last traded at $5.17.

"It's a reasonable discount without being overly generous - they don't need to be in a market that has supply issues and a lot of demand," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "It's a very large placement for the market, and we're seeing some selling stocks this morning to raise money for it."

It will be the second big sellout of SkyTV in five months, after the NBR Rich Lister Todd family sold its 11.11 stake in November, for $218 million.

In a statement News Limited – a subsidiary of News Corporation – says it has appointed Deutsche Bank to underwrite and, together with Craigs Investment Partners, to manage, the sales of its Sky shares.

"It is expected that the shares will be sold to a broad range of institutional and retail investors. Following the sales, News Limited will no longer have any holding."

'Outstanding investment'
News Corp president and chief operating officer Chase Carey says: "Sky is a world class subscription television business and has been an outstanding investment for News Corporation.

"We and Sky have always enjoyed an excellent, arms-length working relationship and we expect this to continue unaffected by the sale.

"In particular, we do not anticipate any change to current arrangements regarding access to content and collaboration on technology."

As a result of the sale, News Limited regional director Michael Miller will resign from the Sky board.

Last month, SkyTV announced a 9% lift in first-half profit.

The imminent split of Mr Murdoch's News Corp media empire sparked speculation in January of a possible SkyTV sell-off.

Sky shares (NZX: SKT) are trading just 0.5% higher than they were a year ago.

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