Granada offloads stake in BSkyB

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The Independent Online
SHARES IN Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB plunged 9 per cent yesterday when media group Granada sold its 6.5 per cent stake in the company for pounds 448m.

Granada, which owns 50 per cent of ONdigital, BSkyB's main rival in the digital TV market, said the stake was "no longer a strategic hold" but offered no comment on the timing of the deal.

The sale - one of the largest-ever bought deals - came on the day Mr Murdoch spoke of fears about world recession at a News Corp meeting. Granada is also discussing the sale of a 4.3 per cent indirect stake held through its share of BSB Holdings, a separate company.

Mr Murdoch said he would delay the flotation of the company that made Titanic until world markets had calmed. He had planned an initial public offering of the movie and television unit of Fox, a US division of News Corp.

Yesterday he said: "We will watch over the next few days, few weeks. When we feel surer markets have settled down, we will go right ahead with that." Asked for a date, he said: "We don't have to do it. We don't need the money."

Mr Murdoch told shareholders at News Corp's annual meeting that he was worried about global deflation that might hit advertising and profits. Advertising revenue at Fox's TV operations had been hurt by the strike at General Motors and dried up in the first few months of the fiscal year, he said.

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