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Rupert Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to appease regulator

Rupert Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to appease regulator

The loss-making news channel has become a key focus of the CMA's investigation into the proposed £11.7 billion takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox.

Fox had already pledged to ensure the independence of Sky News. "In fact, we believe that the enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA's provisional concerns".

Yet just weeks later, U.S. cable giant Comcast entered the fray to crash the deal, lodging a cash proposal of £12.50 per Sky share which it said represents a 16% increase in value over the existing 21st Century Fox offer and implying an equity value of $31 billion (£22 billion) for Sky.

If Disney buys Sky News, it would clear the way for 21st Century Fox to complete the Sky takeover.

Twenty-First Century Fox proposed new ring-fencing remedies which would effect the legal separation between Sky News and the rest of Sky, establishing Sky News as a distinct company within the Sky Group, with its own fully independent board and under the management control of the Head of Sky News. The Murdoch family already own News UK, the owner of the Times and the Sun. "As the regulatory process remains ongoing, shareholders are advised to take no action at this stage".

As the Sky deal remained in regulatory limbo, Fox separately agreed to sell a string of assets, including its 39 percent stake in Sky, to Disney, potentially taking Murdoch out of the Sky equation. The new offering is focusing on broadcasting standards and plurality concerns for the Sky News.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation joins 25 nations in Russian expulsions over spy attack
Australia also joined the coordinated movement to expel Russian diplomats by asking two to leave the country within seven days. Moscow, though, has repeatedly denied involvement. "Rest assured, we will respond".

A Statement from 21st Century Fox said: "We have worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review". Disney will have full ownership of Sky, including, as it stands, Sky News, if the takeover deal is approved.

"We think Sky is an outstanding company", said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement at the time.

'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'.

Another twist in the tale came when American Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal, unveiled a higher £22.5bn offer for Sky in February, setting up a race between the two media empires as they both sought to get their hands on the company set up in 1989 by Mr Murdoch.

Liberum added: "The news that Sky Italia seems to have settled its long-running fight with Mediaset in the Italian pay-TV market also makes Sky more valuable to a bidder, given it makes the prospects in Italy more attractive".

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