News Corporation will fully own and operate ESS businesses in Asia after transaction closes
News Corporation and ESPN announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which a unit of News Corporation will buy ESPN’s 50 percent equity interest in ESPN STAR Sports (ESS). The transaction will allow News Corporation units to own and operate all of the ESS businesses while providing ESPN more independence and flexibility in future support of The Walt Disney Company’s overall efforts in Asia.
The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and ESS will continue to be jointly managed
by the two companies until the transaction closes.
“News Corporation's acquisition of the interest of ESS that we did not already own continues the program
of simplifying our operating model, consolidating our affiliate ownership structures, and furthers our
commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe, and particularly
enhancing our position in sports programming in emerging markets,” said James Murdoch, Deputy Chief
Operating Officer and Chairman & CEO International, News Corporation.
“After 16 years jointly managing ESS, we have decided to independently pursue future opportunities
in Asia,” said John Skipper, President of ESPN and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “We
are extremely proud of our role in building ESS into what it is today, and now with the growing digital
landscape in Asia, we look forward to continuing to serve Asian sports fans through ESPN-branded digital
businesses like ESPNCricinfo, the leading digital cricket brand in the world, ESPNFC and ESPN Mobile.”
News Corporation and ESPN also announced that Manu Sawhney, Managing Director of ESS, who has
led ESS through significant growth over the last 16 years, will transition his role of Managing Director
to Peter Hutton, currently SVP of Sports for FOX International Channels (FIC). Hutton will report to the
ESS Board. Sawhney will be staying with the Company until August 31 to work with Hutton on a smooth
Sawhney joined ESS’s marketing department in India in 1996 and went on to head its India business for
four years, before shifting to Singapore as Head of Programming, Acquisition and Marketing. He was
promoted to Managing Director in 2007. During his career at ESS, he has been responsible for various
functions across the Company, including sales, distribution, programming, acquisition, marketing and
“In his 16 years with the Company, Manu has been a key architect of ESS’s growth, and his contributions
since its inception have helped ESS become a leading sports media Company in Asia, bringing world
class events -- from the ICC Cricket World Cup to the London 2012 Olympic Games -- to fans across
the region. He led ESS’s expansion to 24 countries across multiple platforms and networks, including
launching STAR Cricket, ESPN HD, STAR Cricket HD, ESPNEWS and ESPN Player. We are very
grateful to him for his significant contributions to the Company during his time in India and Singapore,”
said Jan Koeppen, COO Europe and Asia, News Corporation and Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President
and Managing Director, ESPN International.
They added, “Peter is a very talented sports media executive, and we believe his extensive experience in
sports rights and production will serve ESS well as the business enters into a new phase of development.”
Sawhney said, “It has been a privilege to serve News Corporation and ESPN at ESS for 16 exciting years.
I have had an opportunity to grow with the Company and work with an amazing group of people during my
tenure, expanding our business to 28 networks across television, online, broadband and mobile. As the
organization begins a new chapter under new ownership, I have decided to move on after the transition
and I am looking forward to the next exciting phase of my career.”
“I am excited to take on this new role,” Hutton said. “I look forward to working with the ESS team to
consolidate ESS’s leadership position in sports broadcasting in Asia, and to continue the Company’s
record of broadcasting excellence in serving sports fans.”
Hutton joined FOX International Channels Sports in 2011 after 20 years in the international sports
television business. He previously worked at Broad Reach Media, a media consultancy firm. Prior to
that, Hutton was at Ten Sports in Dubai from 2002-2009, where he eventually served as Chief Operating
Officer. From 1993-2002, he ran TWI, the television division of IMG, running their Indian business as well
as television production for Asia. He was a radio and television journalist, commentator and presenter
from 1982-1993. Hutton earned a Bachelor’s degree from the Cambridge University and will be relocating
to Singapore with his family.