Cable to rule on Sky after EU approval

THE EU is set to approve News Corporation’s £7.8bn takeover bid for the rest of BSkyB this week, bringing the firm a step closer to a buyout of the 61 per cent of Sky that it doesn’t already own.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has been forced to wait for the European Commission to confirm that the takeover will not be anti-competitive for the media industry, but even with the Commission likely to rule in its favour on Wednesday, the bid faces further regulatory hurdles.

Once it is approved by the EU, it will then be considered by business secretary Vince Cable as to whether it would adversely affect media plurality in the UK. He will seek advice from Ofcom and is due to give his decision on 31 December.

News Corp also owns The Sun, News of the World, The Times, the Sunday Times and Harper Collins, as well as 39 per cent of Sky.

Cable has insisted that he will restrain himself from being “governed by instincts” on the ruling. “I don’t see this as being political and I certainly don’t allow my own prejudices and instincts to get in the way,” he said.

The positive ruling in Brussels is expected after News Corp offered concessions on its bid proposal and the EC moved back its decision from the original date of 8 December to this week.

News Corp had originally gone to Sky with an offer at 700p per share, but was forced to up its bid to 800p before it was accepted.

Since then, the takeover has been ensnared in regulatory decision-making processes.