Discovery Communications Inc said it would buy 12 Nordic television channels from Germany's ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG for about $1.7 billion to add entertainment, scripted shows and sports to its program offerings.
Discovery, whose cable networks include Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet, said it would take 20 percent equity stakes in French television group TF1's Eurosport Group and four pay-TV channels in France.
The U.S. company also said its board had approved a $1 billion increase to its existing stock buyback program.
ProSiebenSat.1 said it intended to return part of the proceeds to shareholders though dividend payments. It plans a dividend of about 5.60 euros per share after completion of the sale, which is expected in the first quarter.
ProSiebenSat.1's SBS Nordic has a viewership share of 34 percent in Norway, 22 percent in Sweden and 19 percent in Denmark. Its operations also include two networks in Finland.
"SBS Nordic ... will expand Discovery's footprint across the Nordic region, which includes some of the most well-penetrated and stable TV markets in the world," Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said in a statement on Friday.
The deal includes SBS Nordic's 19 radio stations and a few digital brands.
Citigroup acted as financial adviser to Discovery.
The Eurosport deal, worth about $221.6 million, gives Discovery the option to raise its stake to 51 percent in two years.
If Discovery exercises this option, TF1 could exercise a put option over the remaining 49 percent, potentially giving Discovery complete ownership of Eurosport.
The $18.2 million stakes in the French pay channels give Discovery ownership in the TV Breizh, Histoire, Ushuaia TV and Stylia channels.
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.