DirecTV (DTV:US), the second-biggest U.S. pay-TV service, and two other bidders are each offering at least $1 billion for Hulu LLC, the online video website, said people with knowledge of the bid.
The other two couldn’t be identified immediately. Los Angeles-based Hulu’s board has been weighing at least seven buyout offers and plans to narrow those to three or four in a few weeks, said the people, who requested anonymity because the deliberations are private.
Bids of at least $1 billion increase the odds that owners Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US), News Corp. and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US)’s NBC Universal will sell Hulu after a previous auction and plans for an initial public offering faltered. Hulu would give DirecTV, with 20 million subscribers, a lower-cost online video offering alongside its more expensive pay-TV packages.
Darris Gringeri, a spokesman for DirecTV, declined to comment, as did Meredith Kendall, a spokeswoman for Hulu.
DirecTV, based in El Segundo, California, fell (DTV:US) 3 percent to $61.19 yesterday in New York. The stock has climbed 22 percent this year.
In addition to DirecTV, Hulu has received offers from the private equity firm KKR & Co. (KKR:US), Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC:US), Guggenheim Digital, Yahoo! Inc., media executive Peter Chernin and a joint bid from Silver Lake Management LLC and talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC.
The board, which consists of representatives from New York-based News Corp. and Burbank, California-based Disney, is being advised by Alan Schwartz, the executive chairman of Guggenheim Partners. Philadelphia-based Comcast is barred from an operational role under an agreement with federal regulators tied to its acquisition of NBC Universal in 2011.
Among Hulu’s owners, Disney fell 2.4 percent to $63.08. News Corp. Class A fell 1 percent to $32.11 and Comcast retreated 1.9 percent to $40.17.
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