Britain pushes back date for provisional findings on Sky-Fox deal

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 06, 2017 19:23 hrs
The Sky News logo is seen on the outside of offices and studios in west London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's competition regulator will publish its provisional findings on Rupert Murdoch's planned takeover of Sky next month, later than expected, but the overall timing of the review should remain unchanged.

Murdoch's $15 billion bid to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own is being watched closely in the U.S. where Walt Disney Co is in the lead to acquire much of his Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's media empire, including Sky.

Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has been inundated with submissions from interested parties over the high profile takeover, said on Wednesday it would make its provisional findings public in January, rather than the week of December 18.

The regulator is still due to give its final findings in March, 15 months after Murdoch's Fox agreed in December 2016 to buy the European pay-TV group, reigniting a row over whether the media mogul has too much influence in Britain.

Murdoch failed in a 2011 attempt to buy Sky when a phone-hacking scandal at his News of the World forced him to drop a previous attempt.

Since then he has split his companies into two to separate the newspapers from the TV businesses. Fox said when it agreed the deal it did not foresee any regulatory difficulties but the government has taken a strong line against the takeover.

In September the media secretary, Karen Bradley, asked the regulator to examine whether Murdoch had a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards following concerns about the running of his U.S. Fox News network.

Bradley also asked the regulator to scrutinise whether the deal would give him too much influence at the heart of the British media.

Fox anticipates that its deal to buy the remaining shares in Sky will be approved in the first half of 2018. Any deal for Fox would include the remaining stake in Sky, sources have told Reuters.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Costas Pitas)

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