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Speaking of "put"

Thu, 12/21/2000 - 7:00pm
Karen Kessler-Tanaka

Fox Family CEO Haim Saban says that he this week exercised a contractual right to force News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting Co. unit to buy his 49.5 percent stake in Fox Family Worldwide, his so-called put option.

The deal does not have a value yet, although Saban has valued it at $6 billion. Fox Family will let the bankers it hired calculate a valuation. Saban's move could hurt News Corp financially, hampering efforts to acquire DirecTV Inc. from Hughes Electronics Corp. Standard & Poor's warned that it might downgrade News Corp.'s debt rating to "negative" if the company was forced to buy Saban's stake for cash.

Adding to that challenge, Hughes cut a deal Thursday to acquire digital-subscriber-line company Telocity for $179 million in cash. Hughes plans to offer DirecTV subscribers high-speed Internet access through Telocity, which would increase DirecTV's valuation for any possible sale.

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