BSkyB preps ITV stake appeal

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BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch on Thursday confirmed that the U.K. satcaster will appeal last month's ruling by antitrust body the Competition Commission, which ordered it to sell down its 17.9% stake in ITV.

The move, which had been anticipated, will see Sky lodge its application with the Competition Appeal Tribunal today in the hope of having CAT overturn the initial ruling.

Newly appointed CEO Darroch said that Sky will argue against the Competition Commission's conclusions that the stake amounted to a de facto merger with Sky. He also rejected the notion that Sky's investment in ITV prevents competition.

Sky also will argue that cutting its stake to below 7.5% as the Competition Commission has ordered is "unreasonable" and "disproportionate," since Sky has no voting rights in ITV.

"The Competition Commission has failed to meet the burden of proof required to justify its conclusions. It has built its case on a series of implausible hypotheses and has recommended an arbitrary remedy for a nonexistent problem," Darroch said. "The reality is that competition in this marketplace is as vigorous as ever. A merger has not taken place.

Sky and ITV are distinct entities with independent strategies and Sky could not block a shareholder resolution without voting rights."
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