December 13, 2016 / 12:04 PM / in a year

British pension funds warn on any Fox/Sky deal

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.

The 21st Century Fox logo is seen outside the News Corporation headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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

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