Murdoch gets Sky buyout go-ahead - if he sells Sky News
Rupert Murdoch, the 87-year-old media baron looking to cap off a career of global gamesmanship, just scored another victory.
The UK plans to approve a proposal by Mr Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to acquire Sky Plc, the largest pay-TV provider in the country. The move gives Fox the clearance it needs to continue pursuing the 61pc of Sky it doesn't own - but it's no done deal. Comcast has submitted a higher bid for Sky, and British authorities want to ensure Fox divests the Sky News business if it completes the takeover. The decision gives fresh life to Mr Murdoch's second attempt to buy Sky, part of a transatlantic battle for media assets that includes Walt Disney Company and Comcast.
The US cable giant has made an offer that's 16 pc higher, but Fox now has the green light to increase its bid of £11.7bn (€13.3bn). In a further twist, Mr Murdoch plans to sell Sky to Disney as part of a $52bn (€44.4bn) sale of Fox's entertainment assets, which Comcast also may try to acquire.
Matt Hancock, UK culture secretary, said he agreed with the markets authority that divesting Sky News to Disney or another suitable buyer - with a deal that would see the operations funded for at least 10 years - "is likely to be the most proportionate and effective remedy for the public interest concerns that have been identified".
Mr Hancock also confirmed that he intends to allow Comcast's bid for Sky to go ahead.
That scenario doesn't trigger concerns that would require government intervention. Fox's pursuit has been held up over concerns that it would give Mr Murdoch, who also owns UK. newspapers, too much influence over British media.
Sky stock rose 0.3pc to £13.54 (€15.64) in London yesterday.