Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BSkyB Eyes Golden Goal of Cheaper Football Rights

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BSkyB Eyes Golden Goal of Cheaper Football Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL CLARK

RUPERT Murdoch's satellite broadcaster BSkyB has begun renegotiating its [pounds sterling]1.1 billion Premier League contract, which expires at the end of next season.

A new offer has to be pitched by Friday but is expected to cost substantially less than last time, with some estimates claiming the final figure could be lower than [pounds sterling]700 million.

Brokers say English football's gravy train has hit the buffers, but the subsequent downturn in costs will be good for the company, which wants to charge pubs more for the privilege of allowing their customers to watch live topflight football. US securities house Morgan Stanley is fairly upbeat about prospects for the broadcaster and has raised its recommendation from equal weight to overweight while lifting its target price more than 100p to 770p.

Analyst Sarah Simon says: "We believe that now is the time for investors to harvest free cashflow and earnings growth, before another reinvestment cycle begins." BSkyB rose 71/2p to 6921/2p.

Share prices traded in a narrow band with Wall Street running into early profit-taking this afternoon. The FTSE 100 index fell 14.8 to 4060.0. BT dipped 6p to 1901/2p after house broker Cazenove downgraded from buy to long-term buy.

AstraZeneca gave up yesterday's gains with a fall of 80p to 2485p ahead of tomorrow's review of its fat-busting drug Crestor by the US Food and Drug Administration. GlaxoSmithKline shed 15p to 1208p as investment bank Lehman Brothers assessed the impact of new accounting policies on drug companies.

There are also fears of cheap generic competition for its antidepressant Paxil.

MFI rose 131/2p to 1771/2p as Smith Barney raised its target price from 175p to 215p with an outperform rating.

John Brown, retiring chairman of William Hill, has sold four million shares at up to 2871/4p, but the bookie rose 43/4p to 2931/4p. …

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