NZ Rugby must hold onto its Sky shares for a minimum two years, the pay-TV broadcaster said this morning.
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Sky detailed the provision ahead of its annual meeting this morning, which will see shareholders vote on a special resolution to approve a new five-year Sanzaar deal - covering All Blacks, Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup games.
As part of the deal, said to be worth a total $400m (no figure has been given), NZ Rugby will take a 5 per cent stake in Sky.
If approved, the shares will be issued on November 1.
A 'yes' vote is regarded as a done-deal. Indeed Morningstar Research analyst Brian Han said earlier this week that it would be "fatal" for Sky to lose rugby.
Sky confirmed earlier that NZ Rugby is not paying cash for the shares; they are included as kind as part of the new Sanzaar package.
At yesterday's closing price, NZ Rugby's 5 per cent stake would be worth $22.1m.
This author earlier raised the concern that the stake conflicted NZ Rugby in future negotiations. Punting for Spark in 2026 would collapse the value of its investment in Sky.
However, the two-year provision would allow NZR to sell its shares before the next round of Sanzaar talks.
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At Sky's annual result briefing, on August 22, new CEO Martin Stewart had bad news for investors, including the suspension of the dividend, with no word on when the profit payout could return, and a massive write-down.
And the company's shares fell to a record low of 87c last week as Spark revealed it had won domestic cricket rights, then recovered most of the lost ground as Sky confirmed it had held rugby rights (though the stock is still off 51 per cent for the year, and its all-time high of $7 in 2015 now seems a long way off).
Streaming gains offset satellite losses
On August 22, Sky reported a full-year net loss of $607.8 million on revenue that fell 6.8 per cent to $795 million. Its second-half dividend was axed but total subscriber numbers increased as streaming gains outweighed satellite customer losses - but with the company making less money per sub.
The net loss included a non-cash $670m impairment on goodwill assets.
Stewart said the write-down was based on a "more conservative estimate of our future average revenues" and the fact Sky could "no longer include increases in hybrid and satellite subscribers."
He also cited Disney's new Disney Plus streaming service, which will launch in NZ in November, ending Sky's monopoly on Disney content - and forming part of a wider trend for content makers using apps to reach their audiences directly online. Sky subsequently said it would pull its two Disney channels.
Sky also wrote-off $38m on the cancellation of a decoder upgrade in favour of a focus on apps and streaming, a $6m content write-off as some shows were deemed surplus to requirements in a more streaming-focussed world, and a $5m charge for redundancies.
After allowing for various write-offs and the impairment, it made an adjusted net profit of $97m against the year-ago $119m.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $230.1m against the year-ago $285.8m.
Total subscriber numbers increased 1 per cent to 779,000 from the year-ago 768,000 as numbers using Sky's Fanpass and Neon apps jumped 50 per cent.
A decrease in satellite customers from 661,000 to 618,000 was offset by an increase in streaming customers from 107,000 to 161,000.
It was the first time total subscriber numbers have increased since a highwater mark of 852,679 was reached in 2016.
But the fact the streaming apps are cheaper than satellite plans meant overall average revenue per user per month sunk from $77.73 to $74.84.