21st Century Fox proposes Sky News sale to Disney

Acquisition: Fox Proposes to Sell Sky News to Disney

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

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

But although the deal was approved by European authorities, it was knocked back by Britain's competition watchdog, who said in January that it is not in the public interest because it would give the global media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his family "too much control" over the country's media.

The UK's competition authority, the CMA, on Tuesday issued a new set of proposals from 21st Century Fox, which has been trying for months to give assurances to the British authorities, anxious by the U.S. giant's hand on an important part of the information sector. His existing properties, including the newspapers The Sun and The Times of London, reach a third of British consumers.

The Fox bid, pitched at £10.75 per Sky share, is significantly lower than the Comcast offer of £12.50.

Fox is continuing to work with United Kingdom regulators on finalizing the deal for Sky while also fending off a rival bid from Comcast.

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"The enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the [regulators'] provisional concerns", Fox said.

Analysts Liberum Capital said the Fox remedies "should be adequate" to overcome the regulator's media plurality concerns.

Twenty-First Century retain a 39% stake in Sky and, subject to ultimately obtaining regulatory approval, remain focused on acquiring the remaining 61% of Sky.

Much of its decision to propose buying Sky News lies in a desire to eventually own Sky, which has 23 million customers and holds lucrative broadcast rights to the English Premier League and other professional soccer leagues. The final decision on the deal will come from United Kingdom culture secretary Matt Hancock. His readiness to buy Sky News therefore signals a clear commitment to owning Sky. At least 75% of Sky's shareholders, not including Fox, need to support the takeover, which faces competition from Comcast. "It's a sweetener, and it's saying "we aren't as gung-ho on acquiring Sky News as they think".

The proposed transaction has however been complicated by a rival £22bn bid for Sky from broadcaster Comcast, owner of NBC and Universal Studios, in February.

Critics of the deal have said that the independent board could still be influenced by the Murdoch family.

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