UK's takeover authority says Disney must acquire Sky if Fox bid fails

The Takeover Panel said that it considers that securing control of Sky might reasonably be considered to be a significant goal of Disney's acquiring control of Fox assets. That offer however is below the GBP12.50 per share bid made by NBCUniversal owner Comcast Corp back in February for Sky, as well as Sky's current share price.

"Following the acquisition by Disney of Fox, Disney will be required to make a mandatory offer to the holders of ordinary shares in Sky".

Shares in Sky on Thursday were down 0.2% in London at 1,307.00 pence, or GBP13.07, each.

The CMA is now weighing up whether to recommend Fox's deal for Sky to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, who must decide to either approve or block it. In January, the United Kingdom competition watchdog ruled that the deal would be against public interest on media plurality grounds and would give too much control to the Murdoch family, which controls Fox.

If the Competition and Markets Authority clears Murdoch's bid and Disney is in turn allowed to complete its Fox deal, then Sky will come under the full ownership of the theme parks-to-films conglomerate.

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Rupert Murdoch's Fox agreed an offer to buy all of Sky 17 months ago, but is still waiting approval.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is now reviewing Fox's bid for Sky and is due to report back to British culture secretary Matt Hancock by May 1, who will then have 30 days to decide whether or not to approve the deal.

Fox faces a number of regulatory hurdles after the UK's competition watchdog found the £11.7bn deal was "not in the public interest".

However, Disney argued that if Fox's attempt to buy the remainder of Sky were to be blocked, it should not be forced under takeover rules to try to do so itself.

In a separate development, Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, said that Fox's potential involvement in a sports rights cartel should be taken into consideration by the regulators before they make a final decision on Mr Murdoch's takeover of Sky. It also said that Disney was interested in acquiring Sky News.

  • Ronnie Bowen