In the next step of its bidding war with Comcast for UK broadcaster Sky, Twenty-First Century Fox has increased its bid to £24.5 billion.
Last February US telecommunications company Comcast put in a bid of £22 billion, this amounted to an offer of £12.50 per share of Sky. Fox’s new bid brings the bidding war to £14 per share.
Fox already owns 39 percent of Sky so it is the remaining 61 percent that Comcast and Fox are bidding for. Twenty-First Century Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who was also a founding member of Sky.
In a released statement 21st Century Fox commented that: “As the founding shareholder of Sky, we have remained deeply committed to bringing these two organizations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future.”
“We strongly believe that a combined 21CF and Sky will be a powerful driver for the continued growth and vibrancy of the UK and broader global creative industries.”
Fox has stated that Sky’s independent committee has agreed to the deal.
Disney is currently in the process of buying Fox for £53.7 billion. If this is completed in the expected 6 to 8 months then Disney will own 21st Century Fox and its assets, which as things currently stand will include Sky.
On the 9th of December 2016 Sky announced that it had received a bid from Fox to purchases the remaining 61 percent of the company.
This triggered the then Secretary of State for Digital and Media Karen Bradley to begin an intervention process.
On the 16th of March she told the UK parliament that she would be intervening in the proposed merger under the Enterprise Act 2002.
This was done, she stated to parliament, due to concerns that the merger would have an affect on media plurality. A second issue cited was the level of commitment Fox would have to broadcasting standards in the UK.
Last June former Sectary of State for Media Matt Hancock speaking on a report from the Competition and Markets Authority on the issues raised of media plurality and broadcasting standards, he commented that:
“I agreed with their findings on the public interest grounds and their finding that undertakings to divest Sky News to Disney or to an alternative suitable buyer could potentially remedy the adverse plurality public interest concerns identified.”
After consultations Disney, Fox and Mr Hancock agreed new undertakings which would see a commitment from Disney to operate a Sky News branded news service for 15 years. Sky News cannot be sold without the consent of the Secretary of State.
Disney gave a formal commitment to preserve the editorial independence of Sky news.
Mr Hancock stated that the revised undertakings would: “Ensure that Sky News remains financially viable over the long term; is able to operate as a major UK-based news provider; and is able to take its editorial decisions independently, free from any potential outside influence.”