Economy

Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to win pay-TV prize

Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to win pay-TV prize

21st Century Fox said the Walt Disney Company is interested in buying United Kingdom -based Sky News regardless of whether its $52.4 billion deal for certain Fox assets goes through.

This, Fox said, was an offer that stands independent of the $52.4bn (£39bn) deal struck between both companies in December that will see Disney buy up a number of Fox assets.

Fox, which now owns 39% of Sky, in December 2016 launched a bid to take full control of the British company.

But the whole process is stuck at stage one because Sky needs to address concerns from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that the full Sky acquisition could have an adverse impact on the UK's plurality of media ownership, specifically that the Murdoch family would own not only Sky News but also control News UK, the owner of the Times, Sun and TalkSport.

Fox said the proposals would protect Sky News' independence and that Disney has expressed an interest in buying Sky News "whether or not" its own separate proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox proceeds - Disney is trying to take over many parts of Fox, notably its movie and television studios, which as well as its USA sports network. And it is competing against Comcast, the USA cable giant that plans to make its own bid for control of Sky.

Fox is continuing to work with United Kingdom regulators on finalizing the deal for Sky while also fending off a rival bid from Comcast. It proposed itself that Sky News could be either spun off or divested.

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The fate of Sky News is at the heart of the questions posed by the British guardian of competition, the CMA, who ruled that the operation was "not in the public interest" given fears about the plurality of media, in provisional conclusions issued in January.

A CMA spokeswoman said on Tuesday it had until May 1 to provide its report on the proposed deal to Britain's minister for digital matters, culture, media and sport. It has made a proposal to buy all of Sky, including the 39 per cent owned by Fox - that values the pan-European pay TV group at £22billion or £12.50 per share, a 16 per cent premium to the £10.75 a share offer from Fox. It now owns 39 percent of Sky.

The Sky News proposal would take place regardless of whether that acquisition was successfully concluded, Fox said.

The four said the promises did not go far enough, given Murdoch's record of influence.

Fox said in a regulatory filing: 'We have worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review.

Liberum added: "The news that Sky Italia seems to have settled its long-running fight with Mediaset in the Italian pay-TV market also makes Sky more valuable to a bidder, given it makes the prospects in Italy more attractive".


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