BSkyB could agree a deal in the next two weeks to buy Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia and his stake in Sky Deutschland, according to reports.
Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns 100 per cent of Sky Italia and 57 per cent of Sky Deutschland. Murdoch currently owns a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, the British pay-TV firm.
Both Sky and Fox have so far both declined to comment. BSkyB is to report its results on July 25th, and is likely to provide more details about the deal then.
Following reports early may that BSkyB was seeking to create a pan-European pay-TV unit, the broadcaster issued a Statement noting speculation about a potential acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s interests in Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
In the Statement, BSkyB said it has a clear set of plans to grow its business in the UK and Ireland, is executing these well and expects to continue to achieve excellent growth and returns for shareholders. At the same time, the Company continuously explores ways to create further value for shareholders.
“As part of this approach, the Company initiated preliminary discussions with 21st Century Fox to evaluate the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. BSkyB believes at the right value, this combination would have the potential to create a world-class multinational pay TV group,” read the Statement.
“These discussions have not progressed beyond a preliminary stage, no agreement has been reached on terms, value or transaction structure and there is no certainty that a transaction will occur.”
Any potential agreement would be subject to external factors including the Sky Deutschland share price continuing to trade on an undisturbed basis. BSkyB’s focus in respect of Sky Deutschland would be to acquire 21st Century Fox’s controlling stake (57 per cent on a fully diluted basis). As a consequence BSkyB would be required to make a takeover offer to the public minority of Sky Deutschland in accordance with relevant German legislation. BSkyB would expect, subject to German minimum offer price rules, to make this offer without a premium.
All Board discussion of this topic is solely within a committee composed of the Independent Directors of BSkyB, in which Directors affiliated with 21st Century Fox do not participate,” the Statement concluded.
As advanced-Television.com reported May 10, this is not the first time that Rupert Murdoch has attempted to create a European-focused operation. Back in 1998, Murdoch appointed the former chairwoman of Italian public broadcaster RAI, Letizia Moratti, to run ‘News Corp Europe’ and in 2000 announced plans for Sky Global Networks, which again failed to materialise.