21st Century Fox could sell Sky News to Disney

CREDIT Sky  HBO

21st Century Fox has said it would sell off Sky News to Disney or ring-fence it to allay regulatory concerns over its proposed acquisition of the part of Sky it doesn't already own.

Under one option he is proposing that Sky News is legally separated and ringfenced so that it effectively operates separately.

The Walt Disney Co. offered to buy Sky News on Tuesday - but not because the British news channel is core to Disney's business.

Fox, which now owns 39% of Sky, in December 2016 launched a bid to take full control of the British company.

That in turn could ease Disney's proposed US$66bn deal to take over a slew of Fox assets including Sky, although NBC owner Comcast has also entered the race to buy the UK-based pay operator.

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The proposed takeover is very controversial as critics have warned tit would leave too much media power in the hands of the Murdoch family - who already own The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun.

The deal is being scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Sky reacted to the latest remedies offered and said that it believes that both these offers ultimately address particular plurality concerns the CMA may have and would promise the upcoming future of Sky News and its ongoing editorial independence. "These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality".

Fox has a 39 percent stake in Sky and is looking to get the remaining 61 percent.

Sky News could end up being sold to Disney before the rest of Sky.

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In December, Fox agreed to a $52.4 billion stock offer from Walt Disney for its entertainment assets and worldwide units, including its stake in Sky. His readiness to buy Sky News therefore signals a clear commitment to owning Sky.

The Fox-owned Murdoch family already owns two daily newspapers in the United Kingdom via News Corp, The Times and The Sun.

He went on to say that Sky's comment telling shareholders to "take no action at this stage" was: "somewhat of a coded signal to Sky shareholders not to accept the Comcast bid as there may be a counter-offer coming through from Fox (and, by implication, Disney)".

The agency is considering whether to recommend the Fox deal for Sky to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock for approval.

Sky now trades higher than the Comcast proposal, indicating that investors are expecting a bidding war.

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The CMA, which published the Fox concessions in full on Tuesday, is conducting a review and will submit a final report to the British government on May 1.

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