UK takeover panel rules Disney must offer to buy all of Sky


Rupert Murdoch's Fox agreed an offer to buy all of Sky 17 months ago, but is still waiting approval.

Fox, which already holds a 39.1% stake in Sky, agreed at the end of 2016 to buy the remainder of the company in a deal valuing it at £18.5bn.

United Kingdom regulators said Thursday that Walt Disney Co. must make an offer for all of Sky PLC, the British broadcaster, if its proposed acquisition of assets from 21st Century Fox Inc. proceeds.

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The decision may disappoint some Sky shareholders expecting Disney to be forced into a higher mandatory offer. "Further advice to Sky shareholders will be announced in due course".

The Takeover Panel in its opinion said it "considers that securing control of Sky might reasonably be considered to be a significant objective of Disney's acquiring control of Fox", adding the conglomerate would have to offer the same price that Fox has offered to buy the rest of Sky.

The Executive has further ruled that the Offer must be at £10.75 (€12.36) in cash for each ordinary share in Sky.

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Today, UK authorities said Disney would not have to make the mandatory offer in one of two eventualities: if the CMA waves through the Murdoch takeover, or if Comcast's approach is firmed up and accepted by Sky shareholders.

The decision from the Takeover Panel, which applies City rules on takeovers and mergers under a code created to ensure shareholders are treated fairly, disagreed with Disney's argument that it should not have to do so.

"It's very good news", said Crispin Odey, founder of hedge fund manager Odey Asset Management, which owns a 0.8% stake in Sky according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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The offer would also not be required if Comcast, which announced an offer for Sky earlier this year, or any other party has already acquired more than 50% of Sky's shares by this point.