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