Fox Strikes $14.6 Billion Deal With Sky

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 17, 2016 11:36 AM EST

One of the largest media company, Twenty-First Century Fox has reached an agreement with pay-TV firm Sky in a $14.6 billion deal gives Rupert Murdoch's company a control over a network that spans 22 million homes across Europe.

Fox already owns 39% of Sky. Through the deal, Fox acquires 61% of the TV broadcaster that it does not already own. The deal also provides Murdoch a delivery platform for the 20th Century Fox movie studio and Fox TV network, as well as cable TV channels.

Under the deal, Sky headquarters will remain in London and continue a $1.25 billion expansion.

According to a statement by Twenty-First Century Fox, the rationale for the deal is clear.

"It creates a global leader in content creation and distribution, enhances our sports and entertainment scale, and gives us unique and leading direct-to-consumer capabilities and technologies."

The corporation attempted to buy Sky five years ago but had to abandon the bid due to a phone-hacking scandal. After the deal was unveiled recently, there had been calls for the deal's review by regulators to determine whether Murdoch or his son would pass the public interest test.

Labor Deputy Leader Tom Watson urged Prime Minister to side with the country instead of favoring the media tycoon.

With Mr. Murdoch's aim to have the deal done by the end of 2017, Mr. Watson commented that the company was rushing the deal through over the Christmas break with the minimum scrutiny.

"The Secretary of State must refer the bid to Ofcom, to assess whether it would result in too much media power being concentrated in too few hands, and whether Rupert and James Murdoch are 'fit and proper persons' to run a broadcaster," said Mr. Watson.

Once the notification of the merger reaches the regulators in Brussels, the Culture Secretary will decide within ten days whether to refer the bid to Ofcom through the issuance of a public interest intervention notice.

Sky shareholders are also divided about the deal. Standard Life Investments as well as Jupiter Asset Management have questioned the offer price of the bid which they believe is too low.

However, Martin Gilbert, deputy chairman of Sky, believes otherwise.

"[We] believe 21st Century Fox's offer at a 40 % premium to the undisturbed share price will accelerate and de-risk the delivery of future value for all Sky shareholders. As a result, the independent committee unanimously agreed that we have a proposal that we can put to Sky shareholders and recommend," he said.

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