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News Corp. To Buy Out Disney's Interest in ESPN Star Sports Venture

By Mia Lamar News Corp. (NWS, NWSA, NWS.AU) said Wednesday it has agreed to buy out partner Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) interest in Asian sports broadcasting company ESPN Star Sports, concluding the two companies' 16-year partnership in the region. ESPN Star Sports has been run as a 50/50 joint venture between Walt Disney's entertainment and sports network ESPN Inc. and News Corp.'s Star unit, a media company which offers satellite television and other services in Asia. Financial details of the transaction weren't disclosed. News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of this newswire and The Wall Street Journal. In a brief statement, ESPN President John Skipper said the company has "decided to independently pursue future opportunities in Asia." News Corp. is said to be contemplating the launch of a national cable sports network in the U.S. Such an initiative would put News Corp. in more direct competition with ESPN, although the two companies are already fierce rivals for various sports rights. Disney shares closed Tuesday at $44.84 and were inactive in premarket trade. News Corp.'s Class A shares were also inactive from a Tuesday close at $18.61. Write to Mia Lamar at mia.lamar@dowjones.com

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