The European Commission has given the green light to Rupert Murdoch‘s Twenty-First Century Fox to acquire Sky for £11.7 billion.
The EU anti-trust watchdog has given unconditional approval to the deal, saying the transaction would raise no competition concerns in Europe.
In a statement, the organisation said: “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.”
Fox is aiming to seize control of the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own and the bid comes five years after Murdoch‘s last tilt at taking the business over through News Corporation.
That bid was derailed after the company – which owns The Sun and The Times newspapers – became embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal involving News International.
The deal still faces regulatory scrutiny from Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced last month that she issued an intervention notice on the grounds of “media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards”.
Bradley told MPs that she had considered representations from the broadcasters, but she was not satisfied that her concerns had been addressed.
Ofcom and the CMA will have until 16 May to investigate and the commission said today’s clearance decision was “without prejudice to the UK’s ongoing media plurality review of the proposed transaction”.
The commission said: “Fox and Sky are mainly active in different markets in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK.
“They compete with each other only to a limited extent, mainly in the acquisition of TV content and in the wholesale supply of basic pay TV channels.
“Based on the results of its market investigation, the commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns.”
Labour has raised objections to the takeover and has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to make good her promise to stand up to powerful interest groups.
In a statement, Fox said: “21st Century Fox welcomes today’s decision by the European Commission clearing unconditionally its proposed transaction to acquire the outstanding shares of Sky that it does not already own.
“We now look forward to continuing to work with UK authorities and are confident that the proposed transaction will be approved following a thorough review process.”
Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire