Murdoch's Fox wins EU approval to take over Sky

Fri Apr 7, 2017 12:14pm EDT
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By Foo Yun Chee and Paul Sandle

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - The European Commission cleared Rupert Murdoch to take over pay-TV group Sky (SKYB.L: Quote) on Friday, leaving a British investigation into the impact on the country's media landscape as the only remaining hurdle for the $14.5 billion deal.

The Commission said the bid did not raise any competition concerns as Murdoch's Twenty First Century Fox (FOXA.O: Quote) and Sky were active in different markets in Europe, while existing rules in European Union countries meant that rivals would still have access to Sky films and TV channels.

Fox and Sky welcomed the decision, which had been expected, and said they would continue to work with the regulators in Britain where it faces a tougher test to complete the deal.

"We now look forward to continuing to work with UK authorities and are confident that the proposed transaction will be approved following a thorough review process," Fox said.

Reuters reported earlier on Friday that the deal would be cleared by the EU competition enforcer without conditions.

Analysts had not expected the EU to block the takeover after it approved Murdoch's previous attempt to take full control of Sky in 2011, a deal that was later derailed by a phone hacking scandal at his British newspapers that revealed close ties between politicians, police and media.

The British government however has referred his new attempt to regulators to decide if it is in the public interest, in a bid to diffuse the political controversy around a deal that would extend Murdoch's influence in Britain.

Regulator Ofcom will advise on whether the deal would give Murdoch and his companies too much control of Britain's media, and whether the new owner would be committed to upholding broadcasting standards.   Continued...

Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corporation, reacts during a panel discussion at the B20 meeting of company CEOs in Sydney, July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo