21st Century Fox proposes Sky News sale to Disney

The proposal is one of two alternative remedy proposals that been submitted by Fox to the UK Competition and Markets Authority and published Tuesday.

In a statement on Tuesday, Disney said the Sky News deal would be "separate from, and not conditional on, Disney's acquisition of Fox".

"They know full well that it isn't a top priority of Disney to own Sky News".

Twenty-First Century Fox proposed new ring-fencing remedies which would effect the legal separation between Sky News and the rest of Sky, establishing Sky News as a distinct company within the Sky Group, with its own fully independent board and under the management control of the Head of Sky News.

As it scrambled to address these plurality concerns 21st Century Fox offered to guarantee funding for ten years of its Sky News outlet.

21st Century Fox said the Walt Disney Company is interested in buying United Kingdom -based Sky News regardless of whether its $52.4 billion deal for certain Fox assets goes through. "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", Fox said in a statement.

The Fox-owned Murdoch family already owns two daily newspapers in the United Kingdom via News Corp, The Times and The Sun.

"The divestment of Sky News to Disney is separate from, and not conditional on, Disney's acquisition of Fox".

Whatever bit of Sky that Fox owns by the time the takeover goes through will be bought by Disney.

New York-listed entertainment titan Fox has already bid £11.4-billion for the 61% of Sky it does not already own but in Britain concerns linger over the strengthening influence of Australian-born United States tycoon Murdoch. While that situation plays out, Fox is continuing to attempt to get its bid approved by United Kingdom authorities, which have expressed a series of concerns that have delayed completion of the deal. "As the regulatory process remains ongoing, shareholders are advised to take no action at this stage".

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

Fox also hit back at MPs opposed to the proposed takeover, accusing them of seeking to influence the CMA and making a "number of unsupported and fanciful assertions".

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Laith Khalaf added that uncertainty around Comcast's potential offer had created a market for Sky shares. The CMA found the deal would not be against the public interest for broadcasting standards.

"More importantly, we think the news and today's comments from Sky point to a revised bid from Fox/Disney to trump Comcast's 1250p bid", the firm said. "A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate", it added.

  • Wendy Palmer