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Hulu puts itself up for sale, retains investment banks

June 22, 2011 |  1:12 pm

Kilar2 
Hulu is putting itself up for sale.

The popular online television site, which has been the cause of much consternation in Hollywood, has retained investment banks Guggenheim Partners and Morgan Stanley to facilitate a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter. Prospective bidders have received notice that the  sales process would begin in about two weeks.

The news comes a day after it was revealed that Hulu had received an unsolicited acquisition offer and that Web portal Yahoo has expressed interest in potentially acquiring it. Yahoo has not yet made a formal bid, said a person with knowledge of the situation.

By signing up the investment banks, however, Hulu is making clear that it is not just on the receiving end of interest. Rather, its owners -- News Corp., Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. and Providence Equity  -- are seeking to exit the company three years after it launched.

In the last year, the three media giants have clashed with management at Hulu, led by Chief Executive Jason Kilar, over concerns that the site's success is undermining the traditional television business. In particular, cable satellite and television companies that pay fees to carry network programs have been upset that many of the same shows are available for free on Hulu.

Beyond Yahoo, which this year expressed interest in buying the website if it were to be offered for sale, it's not clear who other prospective bidders for Hulu might be. A key question for any potential owner would be a guarantee that television companies including the three co-owners commit to continue providing their content.

Hulu declined to comment and spokespeople from Guggenheim and Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

--Dawn C. Chmielewski, Ben Fritz and Meg James

RELATED:

Yahoo approaches Hulu about possible acquisition

Hulu's IPO on hold (for now)

Hulu is popular, but that wasn't the goal

Photo: Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

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