Culture secretary Karen Bradley keeps Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox waiting on Sky takeover decision

William Turvill
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21st Century Fox agreed a takeover deal for Sky in December last year (Source: Getty)

Culture secretary Karen Bradley is keeping 21st Century Fox waiting for a decision on whether its takeover of Sky should be subjected to a full competition probe.

Karen Bradley told the House of Commons this morning that she is still minded to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on media plurality concerns but not on the grounds of "commitment to broadcasting standards".

But Bradley said she needs more time to review representations by different parties. She said she hopes to come to a final decision in the "coming weeks" and that this may be during parliamentary recess, which ends on 5 September.

She later said:

I may make a decision over the course of the summer recess. But it may take longer.

She told MPs: "Unless new evidence from other representations changes my mind in the coming weeks the bid will therefore be referred to a phase two review on at least one ground - media plurality."

The delay will not please Fox. The Murdoch brothers, Lachlan and James, who are Fox executives, wrote to her last week warning her that delays could be damaging to the UK's attractiveness internationally.

"While we await the outcome of the regulatory process, important investment decisions will inevitably need to be deferred," the letter said.

There is also the broader risk of a potential harmful effect on other companies’ inward investment decisions currently under consideration in the UK.

As one of the first, and the most significant investment to be proposed following last year’s referendum on exiting the EU, our proposed transaction will be carefully scrutinised by others keen to gauge the government’s commitment to creating a climate conducive to investment, or in the words of the Prime Minister and several of your fellow ministers, 'open for business'.

Read more: Murdoch's 21st Century Fox takeover of Sky looks set for full investigation

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