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Discovery to buy Nordic TV networks for $1.7B

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December 14, 2012 05:21 PM EST | AP

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SILVER SPRING, Md. — The parent company of the Discovery Channel said Friday that it is buying 12 TV networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland in a deal worth about $1.7 billion.

Discovery Communications Inc. said the deal with German TV company ProSiebenSat.1 Group for its SBS Nordic operations expands its presence in the Nordic markets.

It also boosts its brand portfolio by adding general entertainment, scripted and sports programming to its lineup of services for the first time. The acquisition also includes SBS Nordic's 19 radio stations and other assets.

The deal is subject to regulatory review and is expected to close in early 2013.

In addition, Discovery said it continues to negotiate with Paris-based media group TF1 to buy 20 percent stake in Eurosport, Europe's leading sports network, for about $221.6 million.

The deal would give Discovery the option of boosting its stake in Eurosport to 51 percent in two years, and gives TF1 the option of then selling the remaining 49 percent to Discovery as well.

Discovery also said Friday that its board approved a $1 billion increase to its existing stock repurchase program.

Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery owns 153 TV networks around the world, including the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and Investigation Discovery.

Discovery shares rose 56 cents to close at $60.82 Friday. Its shares hit a 52-week high of $63.20 on Dec. 5. They fell as low as $39.33 almost a year ago.