Murdoch Said to Mull Using Sky Proceeds to Boost Time Warner Bid

Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 02:35 PM

 

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Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. is considering using proceeds from a sale of its Italian and German pay-TV assets to boost its offer for Time Warner Inc., according to two people familiar with the matter.

Fox may reach an agreement to sell its holdings in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland AG to British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc in the next two weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The European assets could be valued at about 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion), people familiar with the matter said in May. Fox owns 100 percent of Sky Italia and about 57 percent of Sky Deutschland. It also owns a 39 percent stake in BSkyB.

While Fox is willing to pay more than $75 billion for Time Warner after its $85 per-share bid was rejected by Time Warner’s board, it hasn’t made a final decision on whether to increase its offer, the people said.

A deal with Time Warner would reshape the media industry by giving Fox more clout in negotiations with pay-TV providers, which are pursuing their own mergers to build scale. Comcast Corp. agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. and AT&T Inc. struck a deal to buy DirecTV in recent months -- the two largest acquisitions of 2014. A Fox deal for Time Warner would trump both in size.

Julie Henderson, a spokeswoman for New York-based Fox, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Alice Macandrew, a BSkyB spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The Sunday Times reported today that BSkyB Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Darroch is close to agreeing to a price for the purchase of the European assets from Fox.


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