Disney must bid for Sky even if Murdoch offer fails, watchdog rules

  • Disney must bid for Sky even if Murdoch offer fails, watchdog rules

Disney must bid for Sky even if Murdoch offer fails, watchdog rules

The UK Takeover Panel on Thursday said Thursday that the Walt Disney Co will be required to make a mandatory offer for pay-TV operator Sky PLC at a fixed cash price of GBP10.75 per share after completing the proposed acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

Rupert Murdoch's Fox agreed an offer to buy all of Sky 17 months ago, but is still waiting approval.

Each of Disney, Fox and Sky has accepted the regulatory rulings, according to the financial regulator.

"21CF remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced on 15th December 2016, which is supported by revised remedies recently offered to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) with whom 21CF has been co-operating in order to bring the United Kingdom regulatory process to a swift and satisfactory conclusion", Fox said in a statement.

The decision comes from United Kingdom regulatory body the Takeover Panel, which is part of the review process for Fox's $25.8 billion bid to buy the 61% of Sky is doesn't now own.

The Panel's ruling will not stand if Fox has already acquired 100 per cent of Sky by the time Disney buys the Fox assets, or if Comcast Corp or any other third party has acquired a stake of more than 50 per cent in Sky. Comcast said on February 27 that it was considering making an offer of GBP12.50 a share for the whole of Sky.

"It's very good news", said Crispin Odey, founder of hedge fund manager Odey Asset Management, which owns a 0.8 percent stake in Sky.

Fox has been trying to buy the remaining stake in Sky but has faced regulatory hurdles in completing the deal.

However, the CMA has suggested remedies for Sky and Fox to address these issues.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is now reviewing Fox's bid for Sky and is due to report back to British culture secretary Matt Hancock by May 1, who will then have 30 days to decide whether or not to approve the deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally ruled in January the takeover "may be expected" to act against the public interest because it would concentrate too much influence over the United Kingdom media industry in the hands of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT).