News Corp. Offers Remedies in European Antitrust Review of BSkyB Takeover
The European Commission said it extended the deadline for its probe until Dec. 22, without giving any details of the company’s offer to remove possible competition concerns.
News Corp., attempting to gain from the steady subscription business of Britain’s biggest pay-TV operator, asked the EU on Nov. 3 to approve its proposed 7.8 billion pounds ($12.1 billion) bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB that it doesn’t already own. BSkyB in June rejected the initial 700 pence a share offer, saying it was too low. The companies are seeking regulatory approval before a new offer is made.
“It would seem more likely that News Corp. would agree to various trading restrictions on how it acquires content, or indeed other companies in the same space, than any sell-off,” said Richard Broughton, a senior analyst at IHS Screen Digest. “In past deals involving large media conglomerates in the TV business, restrictions which prevent cross-selling of services are often put in place.”
News Corp. said it “continues to engage constructively with the European Commission” and declined to comment on its offer to regulators. Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the commission and Robert Fraser, a spokesman for BSkyB didn’t immediately return calls and e-mails seeking comment.
U.K. media regulator Ofcom is carrying out a separate probe into whether the takeover by the owner of four of the biggest- selling U.K. newspapers would give too much media control to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. It has a Dec. 31 deadline to recommend the start of a Competition Commission probe on how the deal might affect the British media landscape.
News Corp.’s Sky Italia agreed to restrictions on acquiring rights on other media platforms and limits on its ability to start new pay-TV services to win regulatory approval to merge with rival pay-television operator Telepiu, Broughton said.
Last year, News Corp. raised its stake in Sky Deutschland AG, Germany’s biggest pay-TV service, to more than 45 percent.
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