Reuters set to buy rest of Visnews

REUTERS HOLDINGS is buying most or all of the 49 per cent of Visnews it does not already own, in a deal that values the television news agency at almost nothing, writes Jason Nisse.

NBC News, which owned 37.8 per cent of Visnews, has sold its holding, but Jay Fine, its senior vice-president of operations and planning, said the transaction had been for an exchange of marketing rights. 'I don't think any money is exchanging hands.'

The BBC owns the remaining 11.3 per cent of Visnews. It has not finally agreed to sell its stake but negotiations are understood to be advanced. Visnews' lost pounds 200,00 last year on turnover of pounds 60m.

Mark Wood, Reuters editor-in- chief, said the acquisition would allow Reuters to restructure Visnews. It is to link it more closely with Reuters' 118 bureaux which, in some cases, would involve the closure of Visnews offices.

The plan is to make Visnews a leading international television news agency and perhaps to provide a video news terminal in addition to Reuters' other products.

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