Sky takeover: United Kingdom clears way for deal to proceed

21st Century Fox has tabled a bid for Sky PLC

United Kingdom culture minister Matt Hancock said the deal can move forward if Sky News is sold to a suitable third party.

The decision paves the way for Fox to battle rival Comcast to buy the European pay-TV company.

Hancock, however, said that a bid from 21st Century Fox cannot be approved until the media giant has provided adequate plans for the divestment of Sky's news product, Sky News, from its core business.

The Murdoch-controlled Fox has been attempting to address those concerns through a series of concessions, including selling Sky News to Disney once the deal is complete.

Fox has been chasing approval from United Kingdom regulators since 2016 to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

His decision comes after an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into whether controlling Sky would give Murdoch, who also owns the Times and Sun newspapers, too much influence in Britain's news media. Fox's pursuit has been held up over worries that it would give Murdoch, who also owns United Kingdom newspapers, too much influence over British media.

This resulted in Sky's independent board members withdrawing their recommendation of the offer from Fox, which already owns 39% of Sky.

Fox agreed in December to sell its film and TV studios, cable channels including FX and National Geographic and other assets to Disney in an all-stock deal.

"I am optimistic that we can achieve this goal, not least given the willingness 21st Century Fox has shown in developing these credible proposals".

However, he added that if it can't agree such terms that "the only effective remedy now would be to block the merger altogether. This is not my preferred approach".

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