Discovery Communications has completed the acquisition of a controlling stake in Eurosport France, further consolidating its grip on the pan-European sports broadcaster.
The French channel, which had hitherto been 80% owned by Eurosport’s former owner TF1 Group, is now 100% controlled by Eurosport Group, in which Discovery has a 51% stake. Discovery has thus effectively increased its stake in the French channel to 51% from 20%.
Last May, Discovery took a controlling interest in Eurosport International. TF1 retains a put option to dispose of its 49% stake in the Eurosport Group, which would give Discovery a 100% stake.
Last year, the closing price for Eurosport International was based on an enterprise valuation for the Eurosport Group of approximately €900 million (US$968 million), partly corresponding to the initial valuation and partly to a higher valuation linked to the control of the company. At that time, the value of Eurosport France – €85 million – was deducted.
Over the last ten months, Discovery and Eurosport have signed sports rights deals including Major League Soccer, Spanish cycling and FIFA Women’s World Cup football across Europe and local deals including Moto GP in Germany, Belgium and Netherlands. Discovery in January appointed former MP and Silva co-CEO Peter Hutton as chief executive of the sports broadcaster.
“Bringing the French business and its talented employees back into the larger organisation illustrates Discovery’s commitment to building on the success of this great brand,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery.
“Since acquiring a controlling interest last May, Discovery has made a series of strategic investments to enhance Eurosport’s offerings with affiliates, advertisers and audiences. We are ambitiously strengthening Eurosport by bringing exciting sporting events to local fans across Europe and Asia. I would like to thank TF1 for its great stewardship and continued partnership.”
Nonce Paolini, chairman and CEO of TF1 Group, said: “We are pleased with the consolidation of Eurosport France under Discovery Communications’ leadership. Eurosport Group is performing well and will continue to benefit from Discovery’s strategic investments and expertise around the world.”