Crown Media Holdings Inc. confirmed Feb. 23 that it would sell the international TV operations of the Hallmark Channel to an investor group led by British TV executive David Elstein for about $242 mil

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Crown Media Holdings Inc. confirmed Feb. 23 that it would sell the international TV operations of the Hallmark Channel to an investor group led by British TV executive David Elstein for about $242 million.

The investors group is made up of Elstein and buyout firms Providence Equity Partners and 3i, Crown Media said.

The deal had been expected. Shares had risen more than 5% on Feb. 22 following a Reuters report of the imminent sale. They closed down 2.1% Feb. 23, to $9.18 in Nasdaq trading.

Elstein, the former chief executive of Britain's Channel 5, will be chairman of the new company.

The international channel is distributed in 152 countries and offers programs such as "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Touched by an Angel."

The deal also includes the international rights to about 580 TV programs and movies, and a broadcast facility in Denver.

The Hallmark greeting card company is the controlling shareholder of Crown Media. Crown, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., is selling the money-losing international division to focus on its U.S. TV operations.

Crown Media said it expects to close the deal within two months.