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Murdoch Consolidates European Pay-TV Assets Under BSkyB:

pert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. agreed to sell its pay-TV businesses in Italy and Germany for more than $9 billion, gaining funds it could use to raise an $80 billion takeover bid for Time Warner Inc. (TWX)

British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY), which is 39 percent owned by Fox, will pay 2.9 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) in cash for Fox’s 57.4 percent stake in Sky Deutschland AG (SKYD), Isleworth, England-based BSkyB said today. BSkyB will use 2.07 billion pounds in cash and a stake in National Geographic Channel to pay for 100 percent of Sky Italia.

The deal will give Murdoch ammunition as the 83-year-old weighs how much he can increase an $85-a-share bid for Time Warner without jeopardizing New York-based Fox’s investment-grade rating. Fox said today it will announce a new share-buyback program next month. BSkyB gains leverage, becoming a European satellite and cable service with 20 million subscribers, as it negotiates for rights to sports and entertainment.

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