British Sky Broadcasting is to return £750 million (Dh4.52 billion) to shareholders in a share buy-back after the collapse of News Corp's bid to take full control of the satellite broadcaster.
In a statement on Friday accompanying its full-year results, BSkyB said that News Corp would participate pro rata in the buy-back, which means that its share of the equity will not grow, something that would have triggered immediate action by the Takeover Panel.
Announcing an increase in revenues of 16 per cent to £6.6 billion and a 51 per cent rise in free cash flow to £869 million, BSkyB also said it would enter into a partnership with the BBC by which the publicly funded broadcaster would present half of all grands prix in the Formula 1 seasons from 2012 to 2018 while the satellite company broadcasts all of them. This is an unusual step for a company that has openly castigated the BBC in the past. The share buy-back was smaller than expected and below the figure that many investors told Financial Times they wished to see.
Jeremy Darroch, chief executive, said the share buy-back struck the right balance between returning money to investors and keeping what he called financial flexibility for the business.
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BSkyB said it now had 10.3 million subscribers and that the number taking its high-definition service, for which it charges £10 a month, had leapt by 30 per cent in the year.
On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits fell from £1.2 billion to £1 billion after increased programming costs, the expense of restructuring the Living TV acquisition and £15 million costs incurred over the failed News Corp bid, withdrawn in the aftermath of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
James Murdoch, who was unanimously supported as chairman at a board meeting on Thursday, said: "It is to the credit of Sky's first-class management team that the company has continued to deliver throughout the offer period that ended earlier this month."