Murdochs agree £11.7bn deal to buy rest of Sky

Sky deputy chairman Martin Gilbert

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox said it reached an agreement with Sky plc to buy the 61% of the British pay-TV firm it doesn’t already own for £10.75 a share — or roughly £11.7 billion.

The news came despite some Sky shareholders including Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments complaining that the offer was too low.

For the deal to go ahead, 21st Century Fox’s bid must win the support of shareholders representing 75% of the Sky stock not already owned by Fox — and some analysts have said this is a high hurdle.

Amid concerns that Rupert Murdoch will have too much influence over the UK’s media, Tom Watson, shadow culture secretary, urged culture secretary Karen Bradley to refer the deal to Ofcom, the UK’s media watchdog.

Nonetheless, Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert, who is also deputy chairman of Sky said: “The independent committee, which was formed with the express purpose of protecting independent shareholders’ interests in relation to the proposal from 21st Century Fox, has given full consideration to the fundamental value and prospects for the Sky Group.

“While the independent committee remains confident in Sky’s long-term prospects, as laid out in detail at our recent investor day in October, we, supported by our advisers, believe 21st Century Fox’s offer at a 40% premium to the undisturbed share price will accelerate and de-risk the delivery of future value for all Sky shareholders.

“As a result, the independent committee unanimously agreed that we have a proposal that we can put to Sky shareholders and recommend.”

21st Century Fox said it currently anticipates the acquisition will be completed before the end of 2017.

21st Century Fox said: “As the founding shareholder of Sky, we are proud to have participated in its growth and development.

“The strategic rationale for this combination is clear.

“It creates a global leader in content creation and distribution, enhances our sports and entertainment scale, and gives us unique and leading direct-to-consumer capabilities and technologies.

“It adds the strength of the Sky brand to our portfolio, including the Fox, National Geographic and Star brands.”