Disney must bid for Sky even if Murdoch offer fails, watchdog rules

CREDIT Courtesy of Disney  Pixar

Britain's takeover regulator ruled on Thursday that Walt Disney must make an offer for the whole of Sky if it succeeds in buying Twenty-First Century Fox assets, including its 39 per cent stake in the European pay-TV company.

Fox now owns 39 percent, but has offered to take over the remaining 61 percent to take full control.

"The basis for this ruling is that... the executive considers that securing control of Sky might reasonably be considered to be a significant goal of Disney's acquiring control of Fox".

Each of Disney, Fox and Sky has accepted the regulatory rulings, according to the financial regulator.

The Takeover Panel, however, said it considered that securing control of Sky might reasonably be considered to be a significant objective of Disney's acquiring control of Fox, and it must make an offer within 28 days of buying the Fox assets. That's the same price offered by billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Fox to Sky shareholders in 2016 for the stake it doesn't already hold. It also posits that this would not be required if another third party has acquired 50% of Sky by then.

Disney's in-the-works takeover of 21st Century Fox leaves the future of the duo's many media assets in the air as competition authorities analyse the effect the giant would have on the market.

The Executive has further ruled that the Offer must be at £10.75 (€12.36) in cash for each ordinary share in Sky.

In a statement, Sky said that it noted the panel executive's ruling and advised shareholders to take no further action at this stage. It made a submission to the United Kingdom takeover panel, the city watchdog for corporate deals, saying it did not wish to be forced to pursue a full takeover of Sky if Rupert Murdoch failed to take full control.

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