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UK regulator to force Disney’s Sky bid

Disney will be forced to make an offer to buy all of European pay TV operator Sky if it acquires 21st Century Fox’s 39% stake and Fox is prevented from buying the satcaster itself.

Bob Iger

UK regulators at the Takeover Panel have said the Mouse House must match Fox’s current offer for Sky of £10.75p per share if Fox fails to acquire the 61% of the UK pay operator it doesn’t already own.

Fox’s attempt to take 100% ownership of Sky has been repeatedly held up by competition concerns, with UK regulators currently scrutinising the deal. US media giant Comcast entered the race to acquire Sky for £12.50 a share in February.

Meanwhile, Disney has agreed a deal to buy most of Fox’s assets, including its 39% stake in Sky, in a US$52bn deal.

The latest ruling means a bid from Disney of £10.75 per share would occur if Fox has failed to take control of Sky by the time Disney completes its Fox deal, which remains subject to regulator scrutiny in the US.

The UK’s Takeover Panel said “securing control of Sky might reasonably be considered to be a significant purpose of Disney’s acquiring control of Fox.”

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, has previously described Sky as a “crown jewel” among the assets he has agreed to buy for US$66bn but his company had argued it should not be forced to offer to buy Sky if Fox’s bid falls through.

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