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Time Warner moves for control of HBO int’l nets

Time Warner’s HBO is close to completing a US$160 million deal to buy Disney and Sony out of HBO Central Europe. Time Warner expects to close the deal early this year and once complete it will have full or majority control of all international HBO channels.
 
The international HBO offerings started out as multi-partner joint ventures, but under the direction of president, programming distribution and international, Simon Sutton, HBO in the US has been buying out its joint venture partners.
 
In Central Europe it will pay a combined US$160 million to Disney ABC International Television and Sony Pictures Television for their 33 1/3 stakes in HBO CE, which operates 7 channels throughout the region from its base in Budapest, Hungary. It has already bought its associates out of HBO Latin America and HBO Asia, where it still has one minority, partner, Paramount.
 
The HBO CE deal needs various country-specific approvals. The Polish competition authority gave its approval this week.
 
An HBO spokesman in the US confirmed the HBO CE deal is underway, but declined to comment further. Disney and Sony also confirmed they are selling their stakes in HBO CE.
 
TBIvision understands that the deal does not impact the various output and volume deals that HBO CE has with Disney and Sony and that no programming deals will be directly affected by this deal.
 
Time Warner has increased its presence in Central and Eastern Europe in recent times. Last May it paid US$244 million for a 31% stake in regional broadcasting group CME.