Fox is Offering to Sell Sky News Channel to Disney

Fox is Offering to Sell Sky News Channel to Disney

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 other proposal would involve a legal separation and ringfencing of Sky News, including the creation of an independent board of directors.

Mr Murdoch would gain full control of the cable news channel if United Kingdom regulators approve the planned £11.7billion takeover of its parent Sky by 21st Century Fox.

Sky Italia and Mediaset announced a content and distribution deal on Friday, paving the way for a collaboration between the two media groups.

Rupert Murdoch ratcheted up the pressure on Britain to approve his $15 billion-plus bid for pay-TV group Sky by offering to sell or legally separate Sky News, aiming to head off objections the deal could give him too much political influence.

The Murdoch family controls a 39% voting interest in both Fox and in News Corp, which publishes major British newspaper including the Sun, the Times of London and the Sunday Times. Comcast launched its own $31 billion offer for Sky in February.




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

"The enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the [regulators'] provisional concerns", Fox said. It agreed late a year ago to buy the bulk of Fox's assets - including Murdoch's global broadcasting operations, of which Sky is a part - for $52.4 billion.

21st Century Fox anticipates that it will acquire the remainder of Sky by 30 June.

The CMA will now review the proposals and is due to report back to British culture secretary Matt Hancock by May 1, who will make a final decision on the deal. However, this offer is now competing with a proposal from the United States cable operator Comcast who put on the table in late February 12.50 pounds per share to take possession of Sky. Disney said in a statement it would be willing "to sustain the operating capital of Sky News and maintain its editorial independence" once it took over the news channel. Unlike Murdoch, Disney has no meaningful news business in Britain and would therefore pose less of a concern to regulators.

In a statement, the company said: "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".

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