Disney offers to buy Sky News to ease Murdoch fears

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London (Online): The Walt Disney Company offered to buy Sky News on Wednesday but not because the British news channel is core to Disney’s business.

The Disney offer, made in a submission to UK regulators, was applauded by some of Mr Murdoch’s biggest critics in a sign the move could neutralise much of the political opposition to the deal.

Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox said on Tuesday Sky News could be sold on to US rival Walt Disney or become a legally separate business within the Sky group.

Fox agreed in December 2016 to buy the 61% of European pay-TV group Sky it does not already own, but the deal has been repeatedly delayed by the UK government and regulators.

The delay enabled US cable company Comcast to gatecrash the deal in February by saying it would offer £12.50 a share to buy Sky, compared with Fox’s £10.75, although it has not yet made a formal bid.

As the Sky deal remained in regulatory limbo, Fox separately agreed to sell a string of assets, including its 39% stake in Sky, to Disney, potentially taking Murdoch out of the Sky equation.

Fox said on Tuesday its new concessions went beyond the steps that Britain’s media regulator Ofcom said would mitigate concerns about Murdoch’s influence. The company, however, needs to persuade another regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the government.

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