March 1, 2017 / 4:21 PM / 7 months ago

Murdoch's Fox set to request EU approval for Sky takeover bid

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

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) will seek approval from the European Commission for its $14.4 billion bid for European pay-TV firm Sky (SKYB.L) in the coming days, a person familiar with the matter said.

The source, who declined to be named because the decision is not final, said Fox could notify the Commission on Friday or early next week in a move that will also trigger a short review by the British government.

Murdoch’s bid to buy the rest of the British company it does not already own is likely to be a politically charged process.

The Murdoch family have never wavered in their ambition to take full control of Sky, despite the damaging failure of a previous attempt around 5-1/2 years ago when their British newspaper business became embroiled in a phone-hacking scandal.

In December they returned to the fray, striking a deal with Sky’s independent shareholders for Fox to pay 10.75 pounds per share for the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own to unite a media empire across two continents.

Notifying the European Commission will also give Britain’s Department of Media 10 working days to decide whether the bid should be examined by UK media regulator Ofcom to see if it would damage media plurality.

Analysts and lawyers expect the bid to be referred to Ofcom. The European Commission will examine the potential impact on competition.

Rupert’s son James, chief executive of Fox, has said he expects the deal to pass “regulatory muster” and, as long as regulators looked at the facts around media ownership, no “meaningful concessions” would be required.

Some politicians have called for the deal to be blocked, although analysts and lawyers believe it will be approved eventually.

Fox and Sky both declined to comment.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Mark Potter

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