UK government likely to refer Fox's Sky deal to regulator

Fri Mar 3, 2017 10:37am EST
 
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By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's planned takeover of European pay-TV group Sky is likely to be investigated to see whether it is in the public interest, the British government warned on Friday.

Murdoch's U.S. business Twenty-First Century Fox, which owns 39 percent of Sky, officially notified the European Commission of its 11.7 billion pounds ($14.3 billion) offer to buy the rest of Sky and kicked off what is likely to be a politically charged process.

Media Secretary Karen Bradley said she was likely to intervene to see if any one company would control too much of Britain's media, and whether the new owners would have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards.

The deal, announced in December, came five years after a political and criminal scandal at Murdoch's British newspaper business derailed an earlier bid.

Shares in Sky were flat after the news.

Fox said it had anticipated that regulators would undertake a thorough review of the transaction, and it looked forward to engaging with them.

"We believe the combination of 21st Century Fox and Sky will create a company best suited to compete in a rapidly evolving industry, and are confident that the transaction will be approved based on a compelling fact set," the U.S. company said.

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The flag of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is seen waving at the company headquarters in the Manhattan borough in New York June 11, 2015.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo