London – Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O), has expanded his empire by striking a $14.6 billion deal to buy European pay-TV firm Sky, despite the objection of some of shareholders.
Reuters quoted Fox as saying that it would pay 10.75 pounds per share – or 11.7 billion pounds – for the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own to control a business with 22 million customers in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria.
However, the bid must win the backing of shareholders representing 75 percent of the Sky stock not owned by Fox.
Reuters said that Murdoch family have never wavered in their ambition to take full control of Sky, despite the damaging failure of a previous attempt five years ago when their British newspaper business became entrapped in a phone-hacking scandal.
James Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky, said the British-based company had led the way in delivering premium content like English Premier League soccer and the “Game of Thrones” fantasy drama across multiple platforms including satellite, broadband and mobile.
“Sky is much more than a satellite distribution company, it’s a creative, commercial and consumer powerhouse,” the son of 85-year-old Murdoch was quoted as saying by Reuters.
After winning the backing of Sky’s independent directors, Fox will need to secure regulatory approval in Europe and Britain and win over those Sky shareholders who believe the price is too low, Reuters said.
Four top-50 shareholders told Reuters on Thursday that, while they thought the bid was still on the low side, they were being pragmatic due to Fox’s ownership of 39 percent and would accept the offer.