Fox Could Sell Sky News To Disney Under New Proposal

04 April, 2018, 01:15 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • Acquisition: Fox Proposes to Sell Sky News to Disney

Walt Disney could buy Sky News from 21st Century Fox in a bid to ease concerns over the Murdoch family's influence on British media if its planned takeover of the news outlet's parent company, Sky, goes ahead.

Under one option he is proposing that Sky News is legally separated and ringfenced so that it effectively operates separately.

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

Disney would still have to receive regulatory approval if it agrees to buy Sky News.

The news came in a latest filing published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Tuesday, in which Fox made the latest offers to seal the deal.

The Fox bid, pitched at £10.75 per Sky share, is significantly lower than the Comcast offer of £12.50. First, Sky News could be established as a distinct, "ring-fenced" company inside Sky, with its own board and guaranteed funding for 15 years.

Fox said the proposed changes "went above and beyond" what Ofcom, the independent media regulator in the United Kingdom had "stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality".

Analysts at Liberum said they think Fox's proposed remedies should be enough to overcome the CMA's concerns on news plurality.

Sky News could end up being sold to Disney before the rest of Sky.

He went on to say that Sky's comment telling shareholders to "take no action at this stage" was: "somewhat of a coded signal to Sky shareholders not to accept the Comcast bid as there may be a counter-offer coming through from Fox (and, by implication, Disney)". Sky shares rose 1 per cent at 8:14 a.m.in London.

Comcast offered 12.50 pounds a share in cash for Sky on February 27, topping an existing offer of 10.75 pounds from Fox, which owns 39 percent of the European satellite broadcaster.

The authority has until May 1 to make a final recommendation to the United Kingdom government, which then must decide whether to back the Fox-Sky deal, approve it with conditions or reject it. Fox now owns more than a third of Sky's shares and has bid $16.5 billion for the remaining stake in the company. Unlike Murdoch, Disney has no meaningful news business in Britain and would therefore pose less of a concern to regulators.

"We are aware that a group of politicians that is opposed to the transaction is seeking to influence the CMA and is making a number of unsupported and fanciful assertions", said Fox, adding that a rejection of its new proposal "would compromise the integrity of a system" by capitulating to political pressure.

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