Monday 18 June 2018

UK won't delay €25bn Comcast bid for Sky

Sky is at the centre of a bid battle between Comcast, the world’s biggest entertainment company, and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Stock picture
Sky is at the centre of a bid battle between Comcast, the world’s biggest entertainment company, and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Stock picture

Kate Holton

Britain said it was unlikely to refer Comcast's bid for broadcaster Sky for a lengthy investigation after an initial review found that the $30bn (€25.5bn) offer did not raise public concerns about media ownership.

However, UK media minister Matt Hancock said he would give interested parties until May 24 to respond before giving his final decision on whether the deal should be examined by British as well as European officials.

Sky is at the centre of a bid battle between Comcast, the world's biggest entertainment company, and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, which founded the British pay-TV group and already owns 39pc.

Unlike Comcast, Fox has faced lengthy political and regulatory delays. After agreeing an initial takeover in December 2016, it is still waiting for the UK government to say whether it should be allowed to buy Sky.

Mr Hancock said on Monday that the Comcast bid was unlikely to be challenged. "I am minded not to issue a European Intervention Notice on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention," he said of the Comcast offer.

Comcast's bid for Sky is, however, being examined in Brussels after the company notified the European Commission of its intention to buy the group which broadcasts in Ireland, Britain, Germany, Austria and Italy.

Next month, Fox will find out from the UK whether it can buy Sky, and Comcast will receive a verdict from European authorities. That potentially ends regulatory uncertainty around the deal, paving the way for a takeover battle on price. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business