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Discovery buys controlling Eurosport stake

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) -- Discovery Communications Inc. has taken a controlling stake in sports network Eurosport, nearly a year sooner than initially expected, for about $345 million.

Under the deal with Paris-based media company TF1 Group, Discovery will boost its stake in Eurosport International to 51 percent from 20 percent. Eurosport's flagship network reaches 133 million households.

Discovery, the home of channels including Animal Planet, TLC and OWN, bought its initial stake from TF1 in December 2012 for about $221.6 million. That deal gave Discovery the option of taking a 51 percent stake in Eurosport in two years.

Discovery suggested that it moved up its controlling interest after seeing benefits from its minority stake in the first year. The company's president, David Zaslav, said that it became clear that combining Eurosport's audience and Discovery's networks created "an unrivaled and powerful offering" for viewers and advertisers.

TF1 kept an option to sell its remaining 49 percent stake to Discovery. TF1 Group expects to keep its 80 percent stake in Eurosport France until at least Jan. 1, 2015.

The deal announced Tuesday is expected to close in the coming months.

Shares of Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery fell 62 cents to $80.29 in afternoon trading.