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The European Commission has approved Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox deal to take full ownership of European pay TV company Sky.
The European Union’s executive body, which reviewed the transaction for antitrust issues, gave its unconditional approval after concluding the proposed transaction raised no competition concerns in Europe. “[Fox and Sky] compete with each other only to a limited extent, mainly in the acquisition of TV content and in the wholesale supply of basic pay TV channels,” the European Commission wrote in its decision.
Fox currently owns a stake of about 39 percent in Sky. In December, it agreed to buy the rest for 11.7 billion pounds ($14.5 billion).
21st Century Fox in a statement Friday welcomed the EU’s green light for its deal as it turns to the U.K. regulatory review. “We now look forward to continuing to work with U.K. authorities and are confident that the proposed transaction will be approved following a thorough review process,” it said.
The proposed transaction would merge Sky, a pay TV operator in European markets like Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the U.K., and 21st Century Fox and its TV channels like Fox and National Geographic.
Fox and Sky compete with one another in some European markets, but the European Commission saw little overlap to raise concerns on competition grounds. The EU’s executive body instead found the proposed deal would produce only a “limited increase” in Sky’s existing market share when it came to acquiring TV content.
The European Commission had about a month to decide if the deal would “significantly” reduce competition. Analysts have highlighted that the EU would have allowed News Corp., which later split into News Corp and Fox, to take full control of Sky in 2011.
However, the company back then pulled its takeover offer amid the phone-hacking scandal. The current U.K. regulatory review of Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky focuses on such issues as the deal’s effects on U.K. media plurality, as well as Sky’s editorial output and standards.
Etan Vlessing in Toronto contributed to this report.
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