News Corp tries to woo EU over Sky

Steve Dinneen
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NEWS Corp has submitted a series of proposals to the EU in a bid to ease concerns over its proposed takeover of BSkyB.

It is understood Rupert Murdoch’s firm is willing to be bound by strict competition rules to avoid gaining an unfair advantage over rivals.

However, company sources downplayed speculation Murdoch could sell key assets such as Sky News or the Times in order to force through the deal.

EU regulators have extended the deadline on the first phase of their investigation of the deal to 22 December to consider the proposals.

It will then decide whether to launch a full investigation into the firm that would last around four months.

British communications regulator Ofcom is also reviewing the case on media plurality issues.

News Corp is desperate to clear the regulatory hurdles as soon as possible, with its potential acquisition appreciating in value.

News Corp, which also owns British newspapers the Sun and sister paper the News of the World, wants to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own after floating the firm in 1994.

It has already had a bid of 700p a share rejected by the Sky board. The two sides have now agreed to halt negotiations until a deal in principle has been approved.

Sky’s independent directors have said they would be prepared to support a bid of above 800p a share from News Corp.

James Murdoch, News Corp’s European boss, has warned the UK could lose out on investment if the deal is blocked.