Thursday, 19 July, 2018

Disney makes move on Sky News to boost Fox bid

Phone hacking claims Phone hacking claims
Kelvin Reese | 04 April, 2018, 01:11

Fox could sell Walt Disney if its bid to acquire the 61 percent of the company it does not already own is approved, regardless of whether Disney's proposed acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox's assets proceeds.

In a bid to alleviate the CMA's concerns, Fox has recommended either a legal separation and ringfencing of Sky News or selling the news outlet to Disney.

One proposal is that The Walt Disney Company could take over Sky News.

Fox, which now owns 39% of Sky, in December 2016 launched a bid to take full control of the British company. British authorities have expressed concern Fox's full ownership of Sky and its Sky News, an unprofitable 24-hour news channel, would give Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch too much influence in British media.

In a preliminary finding earlier this year, United Kingdom antitrust authorities said Fox's full ownership of Sky and its Sky News operations would give Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch too much influence in British media. The Murdoch family's news outlets are now consumed by almost a third of the UK's population across TV, radio, online and newspapers. Comcast also recently offered to acquire Sky for $31 billion.

The regulator is expected to consider both proposals as it explores the latest remedies and what they mean for its stance on the deal.

The CMA had also stated in January that its media plurality concerns would fall away on completion of Disney's Fox takeover.

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United Kingdom regulators have been anxious that a takeover of Sky would give Murdoch - whose News Corp. owns The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers - too much sway over British media.

First, Fox must have received approval from Disney to offer the concession, they said, and second, Sky said its independent directors remained focused on maximising value for shareholders.

In December, Fox agreed to a $52.4 billion stock offer from Walt Disney for its entertainment assets and worldwide units, including its stake in Sky.

Disney owns ABC News and therefore could be seen as a good fit for Sky News. It now owns 39 percent 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.

21st Century Fox anticipates that it will acquire the remainder of Sky by 30 June. Unlike Murdoch, Disney has no meaningful news business in Britain and would therefore pose less of a concern to regulators.

"We have worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review".

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