Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Fox gets lifeline in its takeover offer for Sky

Fox gets lifeline in its takeover offer for Sky

Fox made a bid for Sky in late 2016 which raised questions around media plurality.

To add to the sense of free-for-all, Comcast may also bid for Fox's entertainment assets.

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox wants to buy the 61 per cent of Sky that it does not already own in an £18.5 billion deal.

The Culture Secretary Matt Hancock warned that if the rolling news channel can not be spun off the deal with 21st Century Fox will be blocked.

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New York-listed Fox had already proposed in April to sell rolling TV news channel Sky News to Disney to clinch its takeover of Sky.

Sky is known in Europe for its live football (soccer in the US) broadcasts as well as for premium content such as HBO's "Game of Thrones" and in-house productions such as "Fortitude" and "Britannia".

Also significant is the entrance of a new bidder for Sky (Amsterdam: BK8.AS - news) - prompting speculation of a bidding war. The decision gives fresh life to Mr Murdoch's second attempt to buy Sky, part of a transatlantic battle for media assets that includes Walt Disney Company and Comcast.

Culture secretary Matt Hancock, who has been reviewing the deal on the grounds of media plurality and broadcasting standards, told MPs today he agreed with the CMA's report that the Murdoch family would have too much influence over the United Kingdom news agenda should the deal go ahead as initially suggested. The move gives Fox the clearance it needs to continue pursuing the 61pc of Sky it doesn't own - but it's no done deal.

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Fox had previously offered to sell Sky News to get regulatory approval for the deal.

"However, if we can't agree terms at this point, then I agree with the CMA that the only effective remedy now would be to block the merger altogether".

Fox responded: "We now look forward to engaging with DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and we are confident that we will reach a final decision clearing our transaction". It also said it would not look to buy a majority interest in any United Kingdom newspaper for at least five years.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has referred Fox's bid for a further consultation, but has also cleared Comcast's rival bid to take over Sky.

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Comcast has offered Sky shareholders a higher $31 billion offer for all of the company. Or, as one person close to Sky, said: "Finally, the fight can begin".

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