CMA publishes latest Fox remedies for Sky bid

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
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04 April, 2018

"The Walt Disney Company...has expressed an interest in acquiring Sky News, with a view to adding it to Disney's existing portfolio of television channels, whether or not Disney's proposed acquisition of 21CF proceeds", Fox said.

Fox is in the process of selling the bulk of its assets to Disney, including its Sky stake, but said the sale of Sky News could take place regardless of whether the two companies' £51bn mega-merger goes ahead. "If the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport agrees, and Fox acquires Sky, Disney would buy Sky News and agree to sustain the operating capital of Sky News and maintain its editorial independence". Under this scenario, funding for Sky News would be guaranteed for up to 15 years - five years longer than Fox had earlier pledged. Fox had previously proposed a separate editorial board to insulate Sky News from Murdoch's influence and in March sweetened the offer, proposing a 10-year funding guarantee for the U.K.'s oldest 24-hour news service.

21st Century Fox Inc.is offering to sell Sky News to Walt Disney Co.as it seeks to win over United Kingdom regulators reviewing its 11.7 billion-pound (US$16.5 billion) bid for broadcaster Sky Plc.

The Fox-owned Murdoch family already owns two daily newspapers in the United Kingdom via News Corp, The Times and The Sun.

"In the wider picture, Disney are more focused on the entertainment side of the business whereas Fox are more news focused", he told City A.M.

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The company, however, needs to persuade another regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the government.

Even if Fox's proposals satisfy Britain's government and competition regulator, however, it may still need to raise its recommended offer for Sky after USA cable group Comcast Corp said it meant to make a higher counter-bid.

"We have proposed a set of solutions that address and resolve any and all questions or concerns that may have been raised by the transaction", the Financial Times quoted Gerson Zweifach, Fox's senior executive vice-president and group general counsel as saying regarding the new move.

"More importantly, we think the news and today's comments from Sky point to a revised bid from Fox/Disney to trump Comcast's 1250p bid", they said.

Fox also hit back at MPs opposed to the proposed takeover, accusing them of seeking to influence the CMA and making a "number of unsupported and fanciful assertions". Comcast recently also offered to acquire Sky for $31 billion. "A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate", it added.


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