21st Century Fox proposes Sky News sale to Disney

Phone hacking claims

Phone hacking claims

Sky News has become an important part of the takeover deal bid as opponents have suggested 21st Century Fox (which also owns Fox News) is not a fit and proper owner of a United Kingdom -based news channel, citing broadcasting standards and plurality concerns.

Fox is in the process of selling the bulk of its assets to Disney, including its Sky stake, but said the sale of Sky News could take place regardless of whether the two companies' £51bn mega-merger goes ahead.

Liberum analysts argued that the deal should allow Fox to hurdle the obstacles that the CMA had put in the way of the Sky takeover.

Meanwhile, US cable TV giant Comcast is also competing for ownership of Sky, having submitted a bid of 1250p per share at the end of February, 16 per cent higher than Fox's offer.

Fox said the proposals would protect Sky News' independence and that Disney has expressed an interest in buying Sky News "whether or not" its own separate proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox proceeds - Disney is trying to take over many parts of Fox, notably its movie and television studios, which as well as its USA sports network.

It added: "Alternatively, The Walt Disney Company has expressed an interest in acquiring Sky News, with a view to adding it to Disney's existing portfolio of television channels, whether or not Disney's proposed acquisition of 21CF proceeds". The Murdoch family's news outlets are now consumed by almost a third of the UK's population across TV, radio, online and newspapers.

Fox 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. Sky News would be transferred to this new company, which would have its own management and independent board.

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

"The divestment of Sky News to Disney is separate from, and not conditional on, Disney's acquisition of Fox".

'These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality'. 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.

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.

"More importantly, we think the news and today's comments from Sky point to a revised bid from Fox/Disney to trump Comcast's 1250p bid", the firm said.

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