Disney Could Acquire Sky News in Fox-Sky Deal's Latest Twist

Acquisition: Fox Proposes to Sell Sky News to Disney

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has come up with two proposals it thinks will alleviate a United Kingdom regulator's concern about the company's bid to purchase European broadcaster Sky.

Fox has also offered to establish Sky News as a separate entity, a solution it offered in its previous, thwarted attempt to buy out the 61% of the pan-European satcaster that it does not already own.

The sale of Sky News to Disney would take place "whether or not Disney's proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox proceeds", Fox said on Tuesday.

Under the proposed legal separation of Sky News from Sky, the news broadcaster would have its own fully independent board and would be under the management control of the head of Sky News.

A Sky statement added: "Sky believes that both of these remedy proposals comprehensively address any plurality concerns the CMA may have, and would guarantee the long-term future of Sky News and its ongoing editorial independence", it said.

Mr Murdoch's family already have extensive media holdings, including stakes in newspapers such as The Sun and The Times.

First, Fox must have received approval from Disney to offer the concession, they said, and second, Sky said its independent directors remained focused on maximising value for shareholders.

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Fox said it has "worked diligently" with the CMA throughout the regulator's review of the deal.

Fox warned the CMA against accepting "a number of unsupported and fanciful assertions" by "a group of politicians", including Ed Miliband and Sir Vince Cable, who opposed to the deal.
"These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality", said 21st Century Fox in a statement.

In this scenario, Disney would end up acquiring Sky News whether or not its purchase of Fox's entertainment assets goes ahead. The new offering is focusing on broadcasting standards and plurality concerns for the Sky News.

But the proposal faces another challenge as United States broadcaster Comcast is mounting its own £22.1 billion takeover approach for Sky.

Disney owns ABC News and therefore could be seen as a good fit for Sky News.

"We think Sky is an outstanding company", said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement at the time.

Liberum added: "The news that Sky Italia seems to have settled its long-running fight with Mediaset in the Italian pay-TV market also makes Sky more valuable to a bidder, given it makes the prospects in Italy more attractive".

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