In a takeover twist, Fox says Disney may buy Sky News

by Ben Pena April 4, 2018, 0:59
In a takeover twist, Fox says Disney may buy Sky News

The offer is a revision of "remedies" submitted by Fox in a bid to smooth the completion of its £11.7bn takeover of Sky, which is still under review by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Sky News could be sold to Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) or ringfenced under proposals by 21 Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) as a way to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

To ease concerns that Murdoch, who already owns The Times and The Sun newspapers in the United Kingdom as well as radio operations, would have too much influence over the United Kingdom media market, Disney has now "expressed interest" in buying the news network.

The first - ring-fencing of Sky News - would involve the legal separation of Sky News, with all of Sky News's operations being transferred into a new subsidiary. So far, Fox has simply pledged to guarantee the editorial independence of Sky News, including through the establishment of an independent editorial board.

Fox - which for a long time has sought to buy the 61% of British pay TV giant Sky that it does not already own - has also offered to ring-fence the 24-hour news channel instead, it said in a statement, as it looks to allay concerns over Murdoch's increasing media influence.

Analysts Liberum Capital said the Fox remedies "should be adequate" to overcome the regulator's media plurality concerns.

Sky, which has already recommended its shareholders accept the Fox offer, also reacted to the latest remedies offered.

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

USA broadcast Comcast is also trying to purchase Sky and has made a 22.1 billion-pound bid for the company. The Murdoch-controlled Hollywood studio has proposed two new offers to British regulators to help get its $15B deal over the line. While that situation plays out, Fox is continuing to attempt to get its bid approved by United Kingdom authorities, which have expressed a series of concerns that have delayed completion of the deal.

The proposed takeover is very controversial as critics have warned tit would leave too much media power in the hands of the Murdoch family - who already own The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun.

A CMA spokeswoman said on Tuesday it had until May 1 to provide its report on the proposed deal to Britain's minister for digital matters, culture, media and sport.

The group, which has a broadband arm serving 29 million United States customers, owns NBC and Universal Pictures and wants to seize more than 50 per cent of Sky.

Sky said, as the regulatory process remains ongoing, shareholders are advised to take no action at this stage.

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