Culture Secretary unlikely to refer Comcast’s Sky bid

UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has said that he is unlikely to call for an investigation into Comcast’s bid to gazump rival media company 21st Century Fox’s takeover bid for Sky, a major sports broadcaster in Europe.

Comcast has made a $30bn offer to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky that Fox does not own, attempting to gazump an earlier offer by Fox to seize complete control of the broadcaster, which operates in the UK, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Regulatory scrutiny has held up Fox’s bid for Sky for almost 18 months.

Hancock, who has 10 working days to make a final decision on whether to refer Comcast’s bid to UK media regulator Ofcom, said: “Having reviewed the relevant evidence available, I can confirm that I have today written to the parties to inform them that I am minded not to issue an (intervention notice) on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention.

“This is a quasi-judicial decision and I am required to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible.”

Sky has been the primary domestic live rights-holder for football’s English Premier League since the launch of the competition in 1992.