Government tipped to rule on Fox bid for Sky


The Culture Secretary is to make a statement to MPs on Tuesday afternoon on the proposed takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox, according to Sky News sources.

It is understood Matt Hancock will rule on the status of the Fox bid for Sky, the owner of Sky News, which has been delayed by a regulatory process to determine if a deal would give the US company too much influence over UK media.

Mr Hancock, who is due to make his statement at 1230pm, has until 13 June to consider a final report on the issue from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which had recommended in January that the proposed £17.5bn deal was blocked.

Fox has since offered a series of remedies to address the watchdog’s concerns – including the immediate sale of Sky News to Disney on completion of a takeover of Sky.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock - confirmed change
Image: Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has the power to decide if Fox can proceed with its bid to take full control of Sky

The takeover saga is further complicated by other factors, including the fact that Disney has agreed a separate deal to buy Fox’s entertainment assets, including Sky.

:: Disney must offer to buy all Sky even if Fox plans blocked

Also significant is the entrance of a new bidder for Sky – prompting speculation of a bidding war.

Sky’s independent directors withdrew their recommendation for the Fox offer to shareholders after Comcast, the owner of Universal Pictures, confirmed a bid for Sky of £22.5bn.

Comcast said its bid came with a series of legally binding commitments on Sky ownership and UK investment
Image: Comcast has also made a bid for Sky and could yet make a rival offer to Fox for the entertainment assets it is selling to Disney

Mr Hancock has already indicated he is minded to allow a takeover by Comcast – given its minimal presence in the UK media landscape.

:: Comcast makes its move on Disney’s Fox deal

By contrast the Murdoch Family Trust is a major shareholder in both Fox and News Corporation, owner of The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

The secretary of state has, what is known as, a quasi judicial role following a regulatory investigation of this sort in that he ultimately decides the fate of any bid and can dismiss, should he wish, any regulatory concerns or recommendations.

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Mr Hancock could decide there are no concerns or allow a potential deal to go ahead subject to certain conditions being met.

He could also potentially request further information and delay a ruling to a later date.

From – SkyNews


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