With Sky deal, united Mur­dochs take care of un­fin­ished UK busi­ness

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By BLOOMBERG

James and Lach­lan Mur­doch were kids when their fa­ther bought into a lit­tle Bri­tish out­fit called Satel­lite Tele­vi­sion 33 years ago. Now they’re help­ing Ru­pert Mur­doch in his ef­fort to take con­trol of the com­pany that grew into the Euro­pean gi­ant Sky Plc in a pro­posed deal that would be the big­gest in the me­dia mogul’s half-cen­tury ca­reer.

Mur­doch’s 21st Cen­tury Fox Inc, which owns 39 per­cent of Sky, agreed on Thurs­day on the deal terms. It will pay £11.7 bil­lion ($14.5 bil­lion) for the re­main­ing 61 per­cent stake. The deal is sub­ject to gov­ern­men­tal as well as watch­dog re­views be­cause of fears the Mur­dochs may wield ex­ces­sive in­flu­ence over UK me­dia, and comes amid con­cerns that Sky’s nonex­ec­u­tive direc­tors are not in­de­pen­dent enough to make 21st Cen­tury Fox pay a higher price.

Should the deal work out as planned, the 85-year-old bil­lion­aire would wrap up a piece of un­fin­ished busi­ness five years af­ter his first bid was bil­lion de­railed by a news­pa­per spy­ing scandal, while his sons would lay the ground­work for the next chap­ter.

The three Mur­dochs worked out the de­tails to­gether, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion.

“This is Ru­pert’s way of re­claim­ing part of his early TV glory,” said David Folken­flik, author of Mur­doch’s World and a me­dia cor­re­spon­dent with Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio. “This is about pride and con­sol­i­da­tion.”

Ru­pert Mur­doch, the con­trol­ling share­holder in both Fox and News Corp, owned news­pa­pers in his na­tive Aus­tralia, the UK and the US when he set his sights on film and tele­vi­sion. He made the Satel­lite Tele­vi­sion buy in 1983, two years be­fore ac­quir­ing 20th Cen­tury Fox, the stu­dio be­hind Star Wars. He kept adding TV and film as­sets, lead­ing to the cre­ation of the Fox broad­cast net­work in the US and a UK ser­vice.

The UK ser­vice and ri­val Bri­tish Satel­lite Broad­cast­ing spent millions com­pet­ing for cus­tomers un­til Mur­doch en­gi­neered a merger in 1990 to cre­ate the com­pany that later be­came known as Sky. It

21st Cen­tury Fox’s pro­posed deal to take con­trol of Europe pay-TV gi­ant Sky Plc

GONG BO / XIN­HUA

Pi­lots learn how to fly a busi­ness jet at a train­ing in­sti­tute in Xiangyang, Hubei prov­ince.

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