Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Economy | By Melissa Porter

United Kingdom hands Comcast advantage in Sky takeover tussle with Fox

United Kingdom hands Comcast advantage in Sky takeover tussle with Fox

Fox welcomed Hancock's announcement, and noted that it had already proposed divesting the platform's 24-hour news channel to Disney regardless of the fate of its bid for the wider Fox assets.

Regulators in the United Kingdom have cleared separate bids for satellite TV operator Sky, setting up a showdown between Comcast and 21st Century Fox as to which will actually wind up with the asset.

Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox launched it bid to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not own in December 2016, but the takeover has held up by politicians and regulators who fear it will give the mogul too much influence in Britain.

Regarding Comcast's latest bid for Sky, the Secretary said this did not raise any public interest concerns and that he does not intend to stop any possible transaction.

"21st Century Fox has already submitted proposed undertakings to achieve the divestiture of Sky News to Disney".

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".

News Corp., which is controlled by the Murdochs, withdrew its bid for Sky soon after.

He added that various suitable remedies could include selling the news network to Disney, which is in talks to buy a slew of Fox assets as part of a separate deal, or selling to a third-party operator.

21st Century Fox can proceed with its planned takeover bid for Sky, provided it sells the pay-TV broadcaster's news division, the United Kingdom government announced on Tuesday.

He said: "I am seeking to strengthen the undertakings that were given".

The decision clears the way for a bidding war between Fox, which already owns 39pc of Sky, and USA media giant Comcast, which swooped in with a £22bn (€25bn) bid after Fox's takeover attempt was held up by regulators.

Comcast has offered Sky shareholders a higher $31 billion offer for all of the company.

The approval of both deals sets up the prospect of a bidding war for Sky, although the share price will tell you that the market has been expecting this for a little while. "It's hard to see how that would be in the public interest".

He said: "With Comcast now in the ring, the future for Sky is uncertain".

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