21st Century Fox lodges Sky takeover with European Commission with government "minded" to scrutinise deal

Oliver Gill
Follow Oliver
Karen Bradley gave a clear indication that she'd be looking close at 21st Century Fox's takeover of Sky (Source: Getty)

The government has indicated it will likely scrutinise the takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox.

The US media giant notified the European Commission today, which in turn referred the transaction to Culture, Media and Sport secretary Karen Bradley.

While the Bradley has 10 days to decide whether or not she will review the deal, she gave a clear indication of her thinking in a statement.

I can confirm that formal notification for the proposed merger of Sky and 21st Century Fox was lodged with the European Commission today and I have, today, written to the parties to inform them that I am ‘minded to’ issue a European Intervention Notice on the basis that I have concerns that there may be public interest considerations - as set out in the Enterprise Act 2002 - that are relevant to this proposed merger that warrant further investigation.

Read more: Sky takeover by Fox set for regulator scrutiny

The decision for the government to review the £11.7bn bid by Fox to purchase the remaining shares in Sky it does not already own, was widely expected to come under scrutiny by regulators.

Two key concerns

Bradley revealed that she had instructed officials to start the groundwork on a review in January, on the basis of two key concerns about the impact of the deal.

“The first public interest ground on which I am minded to intervene is media plurality. That is, specifically, the need for there to be a sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises serving audiences in the UK.

“The second public interest ground on which I am minded to intervene is commitment to broadcasting standards. This ground relates to the need for persons carrying on media enterprises, and for those with control of such enterprises, to have a genuine commitment to attaining broadcasting standards objectives.

Read more: Murdoch swoops: 21st Century Fox agrees Sky takeover deal

However, the Bradley underlined she has yet to formally push the button on the formal review process.

“This is not an announcement of my final decision in relation to intervention, but an indication of what I am presently minded to do.

“Before I make my final decision and in line with statutory guidance, I have invited further representations in writing from the parties, and have given them until 5pm on the 8 March to provide these. I plan for my final decision to be given week commencing 13 March."

She went on to highlight that by intervening, this was the start, rather the end of the process.

She said: “I also want to be clear on what this means in terms of the overall process.

"Any decision to intervene is not the end of the matter. Instead it would recognise these public interest considerations may be relevant to the merger and will trigger action by Ofcom to assess and report to me on them and for the Competition and Markets Authority to report on jurisdiction.

"There would then be a further decision-making stage for me to undertake, in light of these reports. But we are not at that stage yet."

Related articles