Allen wants all of ZDTV

The great thing about being a billionaire is that you can buy things. Billionaire Paul Allen already owned a third of ZDTV. But one third was not enough - so he bought the rest.

The great thing about being a billionaire is that you can buy things. Billionaire Paul Allen already owned a third of ZDTV. But one-third was not enough - so he bought the rest.

Ziff-Davis has announced that it is selling a 64% stake of ZDTV to Vulcan Ventures, Allen's investment company, for $US204.8 million. Vulcan paid $54 million last November to get a 33% stake in the cable TV outfit devoted to technology. The deal, which is expected to close within 45 days, gives Allen 97% of the company.

ZDTV is not Allen's first foray into cable. Vulcan also bought Marcus Cable for $2.8 billion in April 1998 and Charter Communications in July 1998 for $4.5 billion. Vulcan also has an interest in Hollywood Entertainment.

The entire Ziff-Davis empire has been up for sale since July. It is 67% owned by Softbank, which is said to be more interested in a pure Internet play than conferences and magazines.

Ziff announced last Wednesday at Comdex that it was selling its business-to-business IT learning organisation, ZD Education, for $172 million in cash to a company formed by U.S. Equity Partners. That deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2000. Ziff sold ZDMI, the Ziff-Davis Market Intelligence unit, to Harte-Hanks for $106 million in October 1999.

Ziff-Davis says ZDTV is distributed to more than 14 million US homes via cable and satellite. The company says its programming is seen overseas in 50 million homes in 64 countries. Although it has yet to reach profitability, ZDTV reported that for the first eight months of 1999, it saw revenues of $9.3 million.

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