What's going on?
21st Century Fox, the media company owned in part by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, is trying to take full control of British pay-TV company Sky (tweet this). If a deal is consummated, the £18.5 billion (about $23 billion) price tag would make it one of the biggest British deals this year.
What does this mean?
Fox already owns nearly 40% of Sky, so this is a deal to buy the remainder of the company. The price, which Sky’s board has agreed to, is 40% above where the stock was trading at prior to Friday’s news. There are still certain details that need to be worked out, but a full agreement is expected within a month. At that point, Sky’s investors will vote on whether to approve the deal, and there are already some that are claiming the price is too low. For this and other reasons, it’s not a done deal yet.
Why should I care?
For markets: The UK government could stand in the way of the deal.
Fox tried to buy Sky five years ago, but withdrew from the process, mainly due to political resistance to Murdoch in the wake of a high-profile hacking scandal. There is some concern that his influence limits competition among news outlets in Britain (a separate Murdoch entity owns The Sun and The Times, two popular British newspapers). If a deal is agreed, the government will likely review it and could block it – although investors seem to think that’s unlikely.
The bigger picture: This deal is, in some ways, similar to AT&T’s recent offer to buy Time Warner.
Just like the AT&T / Time Warner deal, this would bring together a big content producer (Fox) and a large-scale distributor of content (Sky). By combining content and distribution, the hope is that a combined company can do a better job of getting the content directly to consumers, e.g. via streaming, and fend off competition from the likes of Netflix.