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Setanta sells rights to Fox and announces it is pulling out of US

SETANTA Sports has offloaded its US rights portfolio to competitor Fox and is pulling out of both the US and the Caribbean from the end of February.

The move was announced yesterday and comes as the sports broadcasting giant seeks to optimise its international operations following last summer's collapse of Setanta UK.

Setanta had been expected to sell its entire North American arm to Fox, but instead the US broadcasting giant bought only Setanta's most sought-after rights.

No figure was given for the transaction last night, but it was understood that some cash did change hands, since Setanta USA had already made partial payments for many of the rights that had passed to Fox.

The most-recent accounts for the US company, Setanta Sports North America, showed losses of $10.6m (€7.5m) for 2006. It is understood the division remained loss-making, prompting Setanta to offload it so the business could focus on growth in more viable markets.

Setanta's international arm, owned by founders Leonard Ryan and Michael O'Rourke, with executive Mark O'Meara, continues to trade in Canada, Australia and Africa and is hopeful of expanding in those territories.


The staff for Setanta USA, who are based in Dublin, would be transferred to other parts of the international business to facilitate that expansion, sources confirmed last night. It is understood that the other international strands of Setanta are profitable.

Closer to home, Setanta is gearing up to launch an online gaming arm, SetantaBet, on February 1. The venture is being developed in partnership with French gaming company ChiliGaming.

The international manoeuvrers have no bearing on Setanta's Irish business, which is 60pc owned by MCD boss Denis Desmond.

Irish Independent