Microsoft is on the verge of paying $1bn for a minority stake in Sky Global, the satellite TV company owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, according to US reports.
Sky Global, which is scheduled to float by the end of the year, houses News Corp's satellite TV interests including its 38 per cent stake in BSkyB, and various businesses in Asia and Latin America. Microsoft is understood to be acquiring a 3.8 per cent stake in the venture.
According to The Wall Street Journal, sources close to the deal say talks of a Microsoft investment are "progressing smoothly". In March Murdoch confirmed that News Corp was in talks with the software giant.
Microsoft is a prime candidate to invest in a venture such as Sky Global as it has been busy building up its TV portfolio. It markets interactive TV software and has made big investments in various TV operations in the US, Brazil, Japan and Europe, including the UK's Telewest Communications.
Holland's cable company United Pan-European Communications also plans to use Microsoft software in its set-top boxes.
AT&T's cable TV subsidiary, Liberty Media, said last month it would make an unspecified investment in Sky Global. At the time, Murdoch said that Sky Global would be valued at $40bn after the offering.