As predicted [WAMN, 10-Jul-00], pay-TV group British Sky Broadcasting will today announce that it has gained control of the home shopping and interactive services TV channel, Open.

In an all-share deal that values Open at around £1.2bn ($1.8bn), Sky’s current 32.5% stake increases to 80.1% via the buyout of stakes held by Japanese electronics concern, Matsushita Electric Europe and banking group HSBC. Because Sky plans to issue additional shares in Open BT, which currently holds 32.5% of of the company, will see its shareholding diluted to 19.9%.

In addition to home-shopping and banking services, Open also owns the set-top box decoders required to receive its service. Under rigid non-competition agreements signed by Sky when Open was first set-up, the broadcaster was barred from offering interactive services linked to its own channels. Now it has gained control, the restrictions no longer apply enabling Sky to move into new interactive services such as online betting.

News source: Financial Times