Associated New Media has sold 60 per cent of its 100 per cent stake in Soccernet, the football Website, to Disney subsidiary The Buena Vista Internet Group, in a bid to convert the site into a genuinely global soccer portal.
The move will leave the Daily Mail & General Trust with a minority stake. The site is estimated to be worth $40m (£25m), although terms of the deal remain unconfirmed. The sale removes 20 million of 50 million page impressions a month from ANM’s portfolio of sites.
The Buena Vista Internet Group takes full control of all aspects of production, design, editorial, sales and marketing for the site. These were previously run as a joint operation between ANM and CBS Sportsline.
Confirmation of the divestment coincides with news that ANM managing director Paul Zwillenberg is to leave the company.
ANM editor-in-chief Martin Dunn will take on the additional role of managing director and insists that Zwillenberg’s departure, as well as recent top-level resignations, reflects natural turnover and not dissatisfaction with the group.
According to Dunn, the sale of the majority Soccernet stake reflects the stronger position other media groups have in securing video and audio rights to UK football action as Websites become more capable of delivering pictures and sound.
The recent launch of News International’s Football FC site, allied to its stranglehold over existing viewing rights of UK live football games, has increased competition in the domestic sector, he adds.
“We did look at developing the site alongside CBS Sportsline,” says Dunn. “But it is an area where Disney is well-placed internationally, and we are not. We want to concentrate on developing other services, such as our planned Charlotte Street site for women.”