Murdoch’s Fox cleared for Sky takeover bid

Murdoch's Fox cleared for Sky takeover bid
Rupert MurdochImage copyright Getty Images

The UK government has cleared a proposed deal for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to buy Sky.

The British broadcaster has been the subject of a fierce bidding war between Fox and US cable giant Comcast.

Comcast’s bid has already been cleared, and Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said Fox can go ahead if it sells Sky News.

Fox has been trying to get approval from UK regulators since 2016 to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

Politicians and regulators were concerned it could give Mr Murdoch too much power over the media in the UK.

There were also worries about Sky News’ long-term financial viability, and how independent it would be editorially.

Mr Wright said: “The publication of the undertakings marks the final stage of the public interest consideration of this case. It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21CF’s bid.”

Sky said: “21CF’s offer for Sky has now cleared its outstanding regulatory pre-conditions. This follows the satisfaction by Comcast on 15 June 2018 of its outstanding regulatory pre-conditions, meaning both offers for Sky are now capable of being put formally to Sky shareholders.”

Under takeover rules, Sky shareholders will have 60 days to come to a decision about the respective bids once the offers are formally posted.

In January, the Competition and Markets Authority said the Fox deal would not be in the public interest on the grounds of “media plurality”, although it found the firm’s broadcasting standards to be up to scratch.

Fox has been trying to address the regulatory concerns through concessions, including agreeing to sell Sky News to a bidder such as Disney.

Fox has also said that after the sale it will provide Sky News with funding of at least £100m a year for 15 years.

US media giant Comcast threw its hat into the ring in February with a £22bn offer for Sky, trumping an offer from Fox, and starting a bidding war.

On Wednesday the battle for Sky escalated, with Comcast offering a £26bn deal less than a day after 21st Century Fox increased its offer to £24.5bn.

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