News Corp acquires ESPN’s stake in Asian sports net

News Corp has acquired ESPN’s 50% stake in Asian sports channel ESPN Star Sports.

The two companies have jointly operated the sports network for 16 years, but the deal means News Corp will solely run it. As part of the agreement, ESPN Star Sports managing director Manu Sawhney will step down and Peter Hutton, currently senior VP, sports, Fox International Channels, will become managing director.

“After 16 years jointly managing ESS, we have decided to independently pursue future opportunities in Asia,” said John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks.

While Skipper said that it would pursue further opportunities in Asia, the deal comes after Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger told investors that it would consider exiting a number of international markets.

“It’s tough going for them because they’re frequently competing with local or locally owned and controlled platform owners that are going after sports almost as loss-leaders to drive subscriptions to their platforms,” Iger warned in May.