James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox, has revealed that the company intends to take full control of Sky, four years after it was forced to drop its plans to acquire BSkyB in the wake of a phone hacking scandal which embroiled News Corporation.
In a detailed interview in the Hollywood Reporter (together with brother Lachlan) Murdoch notes that following the acquisition by BSkyB of its German and Italian counterparts and the separation of News Corporation’s print and TV assets, Fox has 40 per cent of an unconsolidated asset. “The Sky businesses, we’ve only just brought them all together into one big European platform. That integration is going really well. The company is moving at a very fast pace and has grown in value enormously. We’ve also been clear that over time, having 40 per cent of an unconsolidated asset is not an end state that is natural for us. Right now, we’re 100 per cent focused on supporting the company to get this integration going and get it done for the business to move forward, so there are no plans on the agenda right now,” he suggested.
“We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies, but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,” said then News Corp deputy chairman and president Chase Carey in a statement on July 13 2011. “News Corporation remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB. We are proud of the success it has achieved and our contribution to it.”
Following News Corp’s announcement, BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch (now CEO of Sky plc) said: “We remain very confident in the broadly based growth opportunity for BSkyB.”