Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said today that she is “minded” to order an investigation into the planned takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY) by 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX), citing two public interest concerns
Both Sky and Fox are controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Times and the Sun newspapers.
21st Century Fox confirmed in January that it will pay £11.7bn for the 61% stake in Sky it does not already own.
Sky shareholders will receive £10.75 in cash for each share, valuing the entire company at £18.5bn.
Sky shares slipped 3p lower to 995.5p in afternoon trading in London. Fox shares in New York were fractionally lower as well at US$29.68.
Bradley has asked for evidence from the two companies and will decide later this month whether to intervene.
A decision to intervene would not block the deal, but trigger an Ofcom assessment as well as a Competition and Markets Authority report to be considered by the Culture Secretary.
Plurality and standards …
In a statement today, she said the first public interest ground for intervention was media plurality and the need for a “sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises serving audiences in the UK”.
Commitment to broadcasting standards was the second ground for possible intervention, she added.
Bradley said: “To be clear – I have not taken a final decision on intervention at this stage.
“In line with the guidance that applies to my quasi-judicial role I am inviting written representations from the parties and will aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger within ten working days of today’s notification.”
She concluded: “This is not an announcement of my final decision in relation to intervention, but an indication of what I am presently minded to do.
“Before I make my final decision and in line with statutory guidance, I have invited further representations in writing from the parties, and have given them until 5pm on the 8th March to provide these. I plan for my final decision to be given week commencing 13th March.”
Story by ProactiveInvestors