June 5, 2018
The British government June 5 officially removed regulatory objections to 21st Century Fox’s $15.5 billion bid to acquire shares of satellite TV operator Sky it doesn’t already own. It also cleared the way for a rival $31 billion bid by Comcast for control of Sky.
U.K. Cultural Secretary Matt Hancock told Parliament the Comcast offer did not raise public interest concerns, adding, “I can confirm today that I will not be issuing an intervention notice.”
Comcast, like Fox, has agreed to guarantee editorial independence for Sky News with a 1o-year financial support commitment.
Regardless of whether Fox outbids Comcast for Sky, it has agreed to sell 20th Century Fox Film — which includes Sky — to The Walt Disney Co. for $52 billion in a primarily stock transaction. Comcast is contemplating a separate $61 billion cash offer for 20th Century Fox, which also includes 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Fox corporate, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, issued a statement lauding the U.K. government’s decision.
“[Fox] welcomes today’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that … has cleared [our] proposed acquisition of the remaining shares in Sky on broadcasting standards, as recommended by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”),” said the media company.
Sky, in a statement, said the Fox’s decision to support editorial independence for its news division provided a “good starting point” to overcome the adverse public interest effects of the proposed merger.
It also applauded Parliament’s approval of Comcast rival offer.
“The Independent Directors of Sky are mindful of their fiduciary duties and remain focused on maximizing value for Sky shareholders,” said the company.