Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is leading the auction for the Travel Channel. There are three rivals fighting to acquire the 65% controlling stake from Cox Communications but Chase Carey, the News Corp CEO says the company would be “uniquely capable” of developing the product.
Cox Communications is likely to make a decision within two weeks, according to people familiar with the discussions. Rival bids are the Food Network owner Scripps Networks and a consortium led by Providence Equity Partners and a bidding war is possible.
News Corp has so far shown a more aggressive strategy and analysts had predicted the network would only fetch $600m-$700m. News Corp believes they can exploit its potential for international expansion.
The News Corp offer would be made through its National Geographic Channel, in which the National Geographic Society holds a stake. Discovery Communications, though not a bidder, has been talking to Providence about retaining the advertising sales and affiliate sales contract it has with Cox for the Travel Channel. A successful bid by National Geographic could threaten that contract.
Launched in February of 1987, the Travel Channel is the only television network devoted exclusively to travel entertainment.