Media merger

Sky agrees to £18.5bn takeover by Murdoch’s Fox

martin-gilbert-newSatellite broadcaster Sky and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox have reached agreement on an £18.5 billion takeover deal.

21st Century Fox will pay £11.7bn for the 61% stake it does not already own in Sky, equal to £10.75 in cash for each share.

There were immediate concerns around the deal that it will hand Mr Murdoch further media influence over the British media. He already also owns the Sun and the Times newspapers. Mr Murdoch’s son James is both chairman of Sky and chief executive of Fox.

A number of Sky shareholders, including Standard Life Investments and Jupiter Asset Management, have said the deal undervalues the company.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has 10 days to decide whether to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority.

Deputy chairman Martin Gilbert (pictured), who leads the independent directors, was urged to seek a higher offer from Fox, but he said today that it will “de-risk the delivery of future value for all Sky shareholders”.

Mr Gilbert is also chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management which owns a 0.39% stake in the broadcaster.

He said: “[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.”

The takeover will be via a scheme of arrangement, which means it needs the approval of investors holding 75% of the shares.

Rupert Murdoch tried and failed to acquire the whole of Sky in 2011 via News Corporation, but abandoned the bid amid the phone hacking scandal.


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