Disney and Fox open door to higher Sky bid

Acquisition: Fox Proposes to Sell Sky News to Disney

Walt Disney Co. has offered to buy United Kingdom media outlet Sky News in an effort to assist 21st Century Fox's bid to acquire the European broadcast giant, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.

By offering to purchase Sky News as a separate entity, the Walt Disney Company should allay regulatory concerns by taking Sky's news outlet from Murdoch's hands.

Disney said on Tuesday if the British government allows Fox to consolidate all of Sky, it is open to acquiring Sky News even if the larger transaction doesn't proceed.

The CMA in January, rejected 21st Century Fox's attempt to takeover Sky, citing that the £11.7 billion ($16.5 billion) deal would give Murdoch "too much control over news providers across all media platforms, and as a result too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

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

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The competition regulator is expected to offer its recommendation on Fox's bid for Sky by May 1. In fact, we believe that the enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA's provisional concerns.

The company said the proposed changes "went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality". It proposed itself that Sky News could be either spun off or divested.

But the proposal faces another challenge as USA broadcaster Comcast is mounting its own £22.1 billion takeover approach for Sky. Disney also said it would "agree to sustain the operating capital of Sky News and maintain its editorial independence". At least 75% of Sky's shareholders, not including Fox, need to support the takeover, which faces competition from Comcast.

Comcast offered 12.50 pounds a share in cash for Sky on February 27, topping an existing offer of 10.75 pounds from Fox, which owns 39 percent of the European satellite broadcaster. The final decision on the deal will come from United Kingdom culture secretary Matt Hancock. Fox planned to fund the independent organization for 15 years, before they planned to fund it for a decade. Unlike Murdoch, Disney has no meaningful news business in Britain and would therefore pose less of a concern to regulators.

"We have now submitted a new, revised set of remedies should they be considered necessary by the CMA and ultimately by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport", Fox said in a statement.

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