January 22, 2007 / 10:25 AM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-Telefonica sees Endemol sale in Q1, Disney touted

(Adds Disney no comment, updates shares)

MADRID, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Telefonica (TEF.MC) expects to sell its 75 percent stake in TV producer Endemol EML.AS in the first quarter of the year, a source close to the negotiations said on Monday.

“The deal could take place soon,” the source said, referring to the sale of Endemol, which the telecoms operator regards as a non-core asset.

He declined to comment on a report published in Monday’s La Gaceta newspaper that Endemol co-founder John de Mol had formed an alliance with U.S. giant Disney (DIS.N) to re-purchase the Dutch production house.

Endemol shares jumped 5.6 percent to 20.61 euros by 1012 GMT.

“We expect today’s report (in La Gaceta) of a potential bid for Endemol to have a positive impact on the share price, but believe that a potential bid has been priced in,” ING, which rates Endemol “hold”, said in a note.

“We believe a sale of Endemol by Telefonica could take a while and that a gradual increase of the free float is equally likely.”

A Disney spokeswoman in London declined to comment on the report.

De Mol and Disney are already joint owners of one Dutch media company — kids cable network Jetix Europe JETIX.AS — of which de Mol owns 17.43 percent and Disney 73.7 percent, according to information from the Dutch regulator as of Nov. 1.

For months, speculation has swirled that de Mol would buy back the company which he and co-founder Joop van den Ende sold to Spain’s Telefonica for just under 5 billion euros in 2000.

Last September de Mol said he had talked with Italy’s Mediaset (MS.MI) over forming a consortium to buy a stake in the creator of Big Brother and Fear Factor.

Earlier this month de Mol bought 5.15 percent of Endemol.

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