BT has confirmed it is in discussions over a potential sale or external investment into its sports broadcasting arm.
The company has released a statement following reports that it was looking to sell BT Sport.
The statement says: “BT can confirm early discussions are being held with a number of select strategic partners, to explore ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business, and take it to the next stage of its growth.
“The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome,” added the statement.
According to reports, BT has appointed investment bank Lazard and held initial talks with the likes of DAZN, Amazon, Disney and private equity companies over a potential investment in the business.
The deal could include a full sale of BT Sport, forming a joint venture or partnership with another media business, or selling a stake to bring in new investment.
BT Sport launched in 2012 and currently holds the rights to 52 Premier League matches per season, as well as the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
The broadcaster is said to currently be in talks with the Premier League about rolling over its existing broadcast deal.
According to analyst Alex DeGroote, now may not be the right time for BT to attempt to off-load its sports arm. “BT Sport is not very profitable and the parent company has bigger battles to fight,” he tells TVBEurope. “Ironically the value of sports rights is now about to contract, so BT is perhaps exiting at the wrong time in some ways.”
“They need to partner with someone with deep pockets,” DeGroote adds. “They should sell a majority stake, say 60 per cent, to the likes of a DAZN or similar. That way they retain some of the upside, in the event of a bigger asset sale in say five years time. And don’t forget BT Sport has a subs base, and established infrastructure, which will have a value to an acquirer.”
“DAZN, Disney, Viacom, Amazon, Facebook or private equity – there will be lots of interest. Interestingly, none are telcos. All of the possible partners are worth way in excess of BT, which has a market cap of £16 billion.”