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Thursday, December 17, 1998 Published at 15:19 GMT


Business: The Company File

Granada and Pearson sell BSkyB stake

BSkyB is in head to head competition with Granada

Media groups Granada and Pearson have off-loaded a 1% stake in BSkyB, Rupert Murdoch's satellite broadcaster.

The holding dates back to when BSkyB took over the then rival satellite broadcaster BSB, leaving the latter's backers with a holding in BSkyB which is progressively being sold.


[ image: Granada is gradually selling its BSkyB stake]
Granada is gradually selling its BSkyB stake
Granada's chairman Gerry Robinson indicated that he was looking to sell his group's stake in BSkyB when the media group reported its results last month.

Granada is a direct competitor of BSkyB in the battle to win digital television customers. Sky Digital was introduced this autumn and Granada has recently launched a digital television service, ONdigital, with fellow ITV group Carlton.

BSkyB originally teamed up with the ITV companies to create a digital television service, but the UK competition authorities were concerned that consumers would not benefit from the deal and kicked the satellite group out of the consortium.

Large sale

Granada and Pearson sold the stake to Goldman Sachs Equity Securities for £81.9m through their holding company BSB.

BSB said it wanted to make full use of its existing surplus advance corporation tax, ahead of changes to the system next year.

The move reduces BSB's stake in BSkyB to 11.8% or 203.6m shares.

BSB, which also a third owned by Pathe, was set up more than 10 years ago.

It had always been expected that the company would reduce its holding in BSkyB over time.

The move follows the sale by Granada two months ago of a 6.6% stake in BSkyB for £429m.





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