Bloomberg News

U.K. Regulator Said to Near Decision on News Corp.’s BSkyB Bid

June 03, 2011

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt may get a recommendation from regulator Ofcom on News Corp.’s proposed undertakings to buy the rest of pay-TV broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc within the next two weeks, two people familiar with the matter said.

The advice will allow Hunt to decide whether he will stand by a preliminary ruling to clear the takeover or announce an additional weeklong consultation, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. U.K. lawmakers will come back from vacation June 7.

A final approval would clear the way for News Corp. to start talks over revising its 7.8 billion-pound ($12.7 billion) bid for the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB, whose independent directors rejected the 700 pence per share bid as too low a year ago. New York-based News Corp. in January offered to spin off BSkyB’s 24-hour Sky News channel to address antitrust concerns.

Spokespeople for News Corp., Ofcom and the Department of Culture, Media and Sports declined to comment.

The approval process was slowed down because of the high level of detail Ofcom has to examine and the regulator is unlikely to make a recommendation while U.K. lawmakers are on vacation from May 25 to June 6., a person familiar with the matter said last month.

Hunt said May 19 that the review of News Corp.’s proposed undertakings has taken longer than expected and that he’ll “go through the process completely and thoroughly.”

News Corp. has reached an agreement in principle with U.K. regulators on a plan to remove the final hurdles to its bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, the Financial Times reported, citing people close to the negotiations.

--With assistance from Robert Hutton in London. Editors: Simon Thiel, Kenneth Wong

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Browning in London jbrowning9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net


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