Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Fox could separate Sky News to satisfy United Kingdom regulator on takeover

Murdoch’s ownership of the Sun the Times and the Sunday Times newspapers has led to competition concerns over the Fox takeover of Sky News Murdoch's ownership of the Sun the Times and the Sunday Times newspapers has led to competition concerns over the Fox takeover of Sky News
Laurie Berry | 03 April, 2018, 13:10

21st Century Fox has strengthened its commitments to Sky's news funding and independence and has said Walt Disney is interested in buying Sky News whether or not Disney's proposed acquisition of Fox goes ahead.

With 21st Century Fox's merger up in the air, it is hoping to come to some sort of resolution before a final decision is announced in May.

"We offered this even though the record before the CMA shows that, over the course of almost 30 years as Sky's founding shareholder, neither 21CF [21st Century Fox], nor the Murdoch family trust, have ever sought to influence the editorial direction of Sky News", Fox said.

Sky and Disney also said they were keen to push forward.

The second proposal has been described as the "divestiture" of Sky News, Newco would be set up as in the first proposal.

London-listed Sky on Tuesday stated that both of the Fox proposals would "comprehensively address any plurality concerns".

If Disney buys Sky News, it would clear the way for 21st Century Fox to complete the Sky takeover.

Keep it with BizAsiaLive.com for more.

Fox said it would fund an independent Sky News for 15 years, extended from an earlier offer of at least 10 years, if it achieves its aim of buying the 61% of the Sky group it does not own.

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Fox proposed the news channel's sale to Disney to guarantee the editorial independence of the operation and said it could also ringfence Sky News, in a submission to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

New York-listed entertainment titan Fox has already bid £11.4 billion for the 61-percent of Sky it does not already own but in Britain concerns linger over the strengthening influence of Australian-born USA tycoon Murdoch.

It said political opponents of its purchase of Sky had made fanciful assertions that the CMA should reject.

Fox is meanwhile ramping up it's Sky takeover efforts after United States cable giant Comcast offered more than £22 billion for the entire group in February.

Sky shares edged up in morning trading.

It is unclear whether the new concessions will be enough to convince the CMA, which has taken evidence from critics of the deal, including Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, and Ken Clarke, the Conservative MP and former United Kingdom chancellor.

Today, 21st Century Fox, said: "We have worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review".

The UK's competition watchdog found the multi-billion pound deal for the Murdoch-owned 21st Century Fox was "not in the public interest".

Comcast and its chief executive Brian Roberts will be monitoring the interactions between Fox, Disney and United Kingdom regulators.

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