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After a long regulatory process, this morning the British government gave 21st Century Fox its approval to purchase the rest of Sky.

  • As Deadline reports, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright (who replaced Matt Hancock just days ago)  made the announcement this morning.
  • In response, Fox noted, “Therefore, following today’s approval by the Secretary of State… all regulatory pre-conditions to the Acquisition have now been satisfied or waived.”
  • Fox currently owns 39% of Sky, however their bid to purchase the other 61% raised red flags in the UK.
  • Under their agreement with regulators, were Fox’s deal to acquire Sky to be completed, The Walt Disney Company will be required to purchase Sky News regardless of whether their pursuit of Fox assets is successful.
  • Disney will also be forbidden from selling Sky News for at least 15 years without the Secretary of State’s consent, will need to increase Sky News’ budget by £100 million per year, and promise to preserve the networks editorial independence.
  • Incidentally, the announcement of regulatory approval comes after a back-and-forth day that saw Fox topping Comcast’s offer only the have the latter return fire hours later.
  • Meanwhile, UK regulators have already cleared Comcast’s bid for the 61% stake of Sky, saying the deal posed no public interest concerns.

What They’re Saying

  • Jeremy Wright, Culture Secretary: “Having taken over as the Secretary of State with responsibility for media public interest cases I have reviewed the process regarding the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox (21CF) and Sky Plc (Sky). I am content that DCMS and the relevant parties have ensured a scrupulously clear, fair and transparent process and I can now therefore inform the House of the final decisions made by my predecessor as Secretary of State. These decisions were made in a quasi-judicial capacity.”
  • “The publication of the undertakings marks the final stage of the public interest consideration of this case. It is right that Ofcom, the CMA and my Department have taken such care in ensuring the bid is properly and effectively scrutinised. It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21CF’s bid.”
  • Sky: “Following a period of public consultation required under Schedule 10 of the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State has published final versions of the undertakings offered by 21CF and The Walt Disney Company, which have been accepted as addressing the concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority in respect of media plurality. Sky welcomes the Secretary of State’s comments that this now marks the final stage of the public interest consideration of this case. 21CF’s offer for Sky has now cleared its outstanding regulatory pre-conditions.  This follows the satisfaction by Comcast on 15 June 2018 of its outstanding regulatory pre-conditions, meaning both offers for Sky are now capable of being put formally to Sky Shareholders”

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