News Corp officially starts BSkyB takeover process

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has today officially notified the European Commission of its intention to take full control of the broadcaster BSkyB.

A notice of intent was uploaded to the Commission’s website this morning setting in motion the 25-day legal process that formalises the media giant’s attempts to take a tighter hold on the pay TV market in the UK.

The Commission must now decide whether the proposed takeover warrants further investigation. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will also have to consider the implications of the proposed deal.

News Corp started the process to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own in early June when it offered 675p a share for the business.

BSkyB’s board rejected this initial cash offer saying it ‘undervalued’ the company.

Murdoch’s company then increased its offer to 700p per share – worth around £7.8bn.

This was again rejected by BSkyB, which wants around 800p per share – around £12bn – however, the company entered into a ‘cooperation agreement’with News Corp to explore a buyout.

Progression of the deal lead to calls for the business secretary Vince Cable to block the proposed takeover on media plurality grounds.

A group of leading print and broadcast media businesses wrote jointly to the Government last month asking it to intervene in Murdoch’s attempts to take full control of BSkyB.

The letter to Cable claimed that a merger of the country’s biggest newspaper group – the Murdoch-owned News International – and Sky – the country’s biggest pay TV broadcaster – could have negative consequences for diversity in the media.

The letter was signed by the chief executives of Telegraph Media Group, Associated Newspapers and the Guardian Media Group, regional newspaper publishers Northcliffe Media and Trinity Mirror, along with those of BT and Channel 4 and BBC director general Mark Thompson.

The various companies want Cable to review any potential deal as they believed that a Murdoch multimedia empire could have an annual turnover of around £7.5bn – compared with the BBC’s £4.8bn – and would benefit from greater sharing of content and journalists.

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