LONDON (Reuters) - British public sector pension funds on Tuesday called for an “appropriate” premium in any potential deal between Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) and Sky (SKYB.L) as well as for safeguards to protect minority shareholders.
Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc aims to table a firm cash bid valuing Sky at 10.75 pounds ($13.66) per share as early as Wednesday for the 61 percent of the British broadcaster it does not already own, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
“All directors of Sky have a duty not to disadvantage the public shareholders, and the position of the non-executives will need to be robust to ensure that the premium paid is appropriate and that shareholders are not disadvantaged by any temporary low in the share price,” said Kieran Quinn, chairman of Britain’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF).
The LAPFF represents 71 public sector pension funds managing 175 billion pounds ($222.29 billion) in assets.
LAPFF said it wanted to see unspecified “safeguards for future probity given past track records of the businesses controlled by the Murdoch family”.
“Further clarity may also be needed so that public shareholders have full confidence that proposals are not being unduly influenced by the well-known relationships between Sky and Twenty-First Century Fox,” it said.
“The role of (British communications industry regulator) OFCOM would be helpful in bringing its expert scrutiny on a deal that will have a broader impact on the future of the broadcasting and print media marketplace in the UK,” Quinn added.
Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Jason Neely