Britain to rule on Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Sky on Tuesday

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will give its verdict on Rupert Murdoch’s pursuit of Sky later on Tuesday, potentially paving the way for the mogul’s Twenty-First Century Fox to go head-to-head with rival Comcast Corp for the European pay-TV group.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – US Open – Mens Final – New York, U.S. – September 10, 2017 – Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of Fox News Channel stands before Rafael Nadal of Spain plays against Kevin Anderson of South Africa. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Murdoch launched his bid to buy all of Sky in December 2016, but the takeover has been held up by politicians and regulators who fear it will give the mogul too much influence in Britain.

If the government gives Fox the go-ahead to buy Sky – a verdict that could come with demands for more concessions – Murdoch faces another fight before he wins the prize.

Comcast made a rival offer for Sky in February, resulting in the Sky’s independent board members withdrawing their recommendation of the offer from Fox, which already owns 39 percent of Sky.

FILE PHOTO: The Twenty-First Century Fox Studios flag flies over the company building in Los Angeles, California U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Even if Fox beats Comcast, Murdoch’s control is unlikely to last long because he has agreed to sell many of his TV and film assets, including its stake in Sky, to Walt Disney Co in a separate $52 billion deal.

Fox has offered undertakings to fund and protect the editorial independence of Sky News in order to win backing for its bid.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will make a statement on the deal later on Tuesday, the government said.

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.

Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Louise Heavens

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