Fox-Sky Deal Said to Stay With EU After U.K. Skips Deadline

  • U.K.’s CMA won’t ask to take over deal by Friday deadline
  • EU saw no antitrust problems with deal in 2010 review

21st Century Fox Inc.’s bid for Sky Plc will be weighed by European Union regulators after the U.K. merger watchdog passed up the chance of reviewing the 11.7 billion-pound ($14.6 billion) deal, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority isn’t expected to ask the European Commission to hand over the antitrust review of the transaction before a Friday cut-off date, said the people, who asked not to be named because details of the probe aren’t public. EU regulators now have an April 7 deadline to decide whether to approve it.

The antitrust investigation, which examines the economic power of a deal, is separate from another U.K. inquiry to decide whether the takeover breaches British rules on media plurality and broadcasting standards. The EU unconditionally cleared a News Corp. takeover of Sky in 2010, which was later abandoned in an outcry over revelations of News Corp. phone hacking. British merger regulators didn’t ask for jurisdiction over that proposed deal either.

Spokespeople for Sky and 21st Century Fox declined to immediately comment. The CMA and European Commission declined to comment.

The British inquiry potentially poses a bigger potential hurdle to the deal than the antitrust review. U.K. government asked telecom regulators earlier this month to examine media concerns, leaving a final decision on whether to block the deal with U.K. Culture Minister Karen Bradley.

— With assistance by Patrick Gower

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