News Corporation, the media conglomerate led by Rupert Murdoch, on Wednesday said it will buy out ESPN Inc’s stake in their joint venture ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) to gain full control of the sports broadcaster.
Following the development, ESS Managing Director Manu Sawhney, who has been associated with the company for 16 years will leave the firm and will be replaced by Peter Hutton, currently Senior Vice-President of Sports for FOX International Channels (FIC).
“News Corporation’s acquisition of the interest of ESS that we did not already own continues the program of simplifying our operating model, consolidating our affiliate ownership structures...,” News Corp Deputy CEO James Murdoch said in a statement.
ESS is a 50:50 joint venture between News Corporation and ESPN, an arm of the Walt Disney Co.
The transaction will allow News Corporation units to own and operate all of the ESS businesses while providing ESPN more independence and flexibility in future support of The Walt Disney Company’s overall efforts in Asia, the statement added.
Commenting on the development, ESPN president and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper said: “After 16 years jointly managing ESS, we have decided to independently pursue future opportunities in Asia.”
The statement further said Mr. Sawhney, Managing Director of ESS will transition his role of Managing Director to Peter Hutton.
Mr. Hutton, currently Senior vice-president of Sports for FOX International Channels (FIC), will report to the ESS Board.
“Sawhney will be staying with the company until August 31 to work with Hutton on a smooth transition,” it said.
Commenting on his exit, Mr. Sawhney said: “...As the organisation begins a new chapter under new ownership, I have decided to move on after the transition and I am looking forward to the next exciting phase of my career.”
ESS has a portfolio of multimedia assets including its television networks (ESPN, STAR Sports, STAR Cricket, ESPNEWS, ESPN HD, STAR Cricket HD), broadband network (ESPN Player), digital content services (espnstar.com, mobileESPN), and its on-ground Event Management Group.