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Artist Series Makes $35O Million Cash Offer for Fuse TV

Fuse Studio in NYC
Madison Square Garden Co. decided to sell Fuse TV after various parties expressed interest in the TV network, Hank Ratner, the former chief executive officer, said on a Nov. 1 earnings conference call. Photographer: Ben Hider/Getty Images

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Artist Series Inc. made a conditional offer to buy Madison Square Garden Co.’s Fuse TV for $350 million in cash, which would surpass offers by Jennifer Lopez and Sean “Diddy” Combs, Artist Series said.

Joe DiRosa, owner and founder of Artist Series, said he hasn’t lined up financing yet, though he has met with Guggenheim Partners LLC, Blackstone Group LP and Walt Disney Co.

“I don’t have solid, solid financing yet,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

MSG spokeswoman Kim Kerns declined to comment. Guggenheim Partners spokesman Jeffrey Kelley, Blackstone spokesman Peter Rose and Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha didn’t respond to voicemails and e-mails sent by Bloomberg News seeking comment.

NuvoTV, an English-language cable channel for Latinos backed by Lopez, made an offer for the Fuse cable channel including cash and equity valued at more than $200 million, people familiar with knowledge of the matter have said this month. Combs has offered to buy the channel for about $200 million.

MSG, based in New York, said in September it’s working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to find a buyer for Fuse.

Fuse airs original programming including “Billy on the Street,” which stars comedian Bill Eichner accosting New Yorkers on public sidewalks with celebrity trivia questions, and “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce,” a reality series featuring New Orleans musician Big Freedia.

MSG decided to sell Fuse after various parties expressed interest in the TV network, Hank Ratner, the former chief executive officer, said on a Nov. 1 earnings conference call. Tad Smith replaced Ratner as president and CEO last month.

DiRosa said New York-based Artist Series, which was founded in 2002, has produced Web programming, including YouTube videos. He said he’s developed 16 shows that are ready to be produced once Artist Series has a network.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Hart in Washington at dahart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net Sylvia Wier, Nancy Moran

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