News Corp. sells its Fox Mobile to investor group


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News Corp. has sold off its wireless entertainment division, Fox Mobile Group, to Jesta Group, a real estate holding company that also makes investments in other areas, including technology.

The deal closed Wednesday morning, but financial terms were not disclosed.


News Corp. hadbeen looking to unload Fox Mobile, which sells games, ring tones and original videos for mobile phones and provides on-demand access to movies and television shows for the small screen. Its brands include Jamba, Jamster, Mobizzo and Bitbop.

The media conglomerate spent a total of $388 million to acquire Jamba, taking a majority stake in 2006 and buying it outright from VeriSign in 2008. The company reorganized its mobile group when it assumed full ownership of Jamba and formed Fox Mobile Group -- a vertically integrated mobile entertainment company that handled licensing, distribution and original content production.

News Corp. has since cooled on prospects for the division, with Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey telling investors during an August earnings call that the company was ‘pursuing a process to potentially sell’ the business.

The entertainment giant probably will play a more traditional role of licensing its movies and television shows to mobile platforms, in deals like one last summer, in which a new Samsung phone came with a copy of the film studio’s blockbuster ‘Avatar’ already loaded on the device. It also licenses the intellectual property for games and mobile applications, such as the Glee Karaoke app for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod Touch.

Fox Mobile will be renamed and become part of the newly formed Jesta Mobile Holdings, which will have headquarters in Berlin and Beverly Hills.

‘We believe that mobile entertainment is an important emerging market and we are excited about this acquisition,’ Jesta Group President Jason Aintabi said in a statement.


-- Dawn C. Chmielewski