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BSkyB bids for German, Italian siblings

UK satcaster BSkyB has confirmed it is bidding to buy out 21st Century Fox’s interests in its sister operations in Germany and Italy.

BSkyB has entered into preliminary discussions with 21st Century Fox about the two broadcasters but no agreement has been reached on terms, value or transaction structure. Bloomberg reported on Friday that the deal could be worth as much as €10bn (US$13.76bn).

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a 39% stake in BSkyB. If an agreement is reached the UK pay TV outfit would acquire 21st Century’s 57% stake in Sky Deutschland before taking over the remainder. Sky Italia is owned entirely by 21st Century Fox.

In a statement this morning, BSkyB said it believed the acquisition of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia at the right price would create a “world-class multinational pay TV group.”

It said any potential agreement would be subject to external factors including the Sky Deutschland share price continuing to trade on an undisturbed basis.

21st Century Fox’s controlling 57% stake in Sky Deutschland means that, under German law, BSkyB would be required to make an offer to buy the public minority stake as well.

The independent directors of BSkyB are holding discussions about the bid and directors affiliated with 21st Century Fox are not participating, the statement added.

A brief statement from 21st Century Fox said: “Over the years we’ve had numerous internal discussions regarding the organisational and ownership structure of the European Sky-branded satellite platforms. From time to time these conversations have included BSkyB. However, no agreement between the parties has ever been reached.”

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