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European watchdog clears Comcast’s £22bn bid for Sky amid bidding war over UK broadcaster

By PA Media Lawyer

European regulators have cleared Comcast’s £22bn bid for Sky, helping fuel a bidding war with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

The European Commission has given unconditional approval to Comcast’s proposed acquisition of the UK broadcaster on Friday, concluding that it would “raise no competition concerns in Europe”.

The EU regulator explained: “The Commission found that the proposed transaction would lead to only a limited increase in Sky’s existing share of the markets for the acquisition of TV content, as well as in the market for the wholesale supply of TV channels in the relevant member states.”

Comcast welcomed the news and said that it would publish an offer document “in due course” which would include the full terms and conditions of the deal.

The US company said it expected to close the deal by year-end.

Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts said: “We are excited by the opportunities that a combination of Sky and Comcast will bring.

“As we have said from the outset, we will invest to grow and enhance Sky’s business and be a strong steward of its valuable brand.

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“Sky is a great British business, with us, that’s the way it will always be. We now look forward to posting our offer document to give Sky shareholders the opportunity to accept our superior cash offer.”

The approval will help intensify the bidding war with Fox, which has launched its own £11.7bn takeover bid for the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own.

The European Commission cleared Fox’s bid for Sky in April 2017.

But, earlier this month Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said Fox would have to sell off Sky News in order to address media plurality concerns and secure Government approval for the deal.

Hancock told Parliament he will hold consultations to finalise details of the plans to sell off Sky News before making a final decision.

However, if terms of a sale of Sky News cannot be agreed, he said the “only effective remedy now would be to block the merger altogether”.

The Culture Secretary has separately cleared Comcast’s bid for Sky.

Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

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