Sky Issues Statement On UK Panel Ruling

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But it said that the ruling would not stand if Fox's deal for Sky is approved and goes through before Disney acquires Fox assets, or if rival Sky bidder Comcast acquires a stake of more than 50pc in Sky.

The decision comes from United Kingdom regulatory body the Takeover Panel, which is part of the review process for Fox's $25.8 billion bid to buy the 61% of Sky is doesn't now own. It also posits that this would not be required if another third party has acquired 50% of Sky by then.

Walt Disney will have to make an offer for the whole of Sky if 21st Century Fox's bid to purchase the remaining 61 per cent stake in the European pay-TV company is unsuccessful, the UK's takeover regulator said on Thursday.

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Today, UK authorities said Disney would not have to make the mandatory offer in one of two eventualities: if the CMA waves through the Murdoch takeover, or if Comcast's approach is firmed up and accepted by Sky shareholders. Disney argued that owning Sky was not a major driver of its overall Fox deal - which includes buying Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox - and so that rule should not apply. The Group said further advice to its shareholders will be announced in due course. However, Fox has proposed remedies to allay the regulators' concerns.

The decision from the Takeover Panel, which applies City rules on takeovers and mergers under a code created to ensure shareholders are treated fairly, disagreed with Disney's argument that it should not have to do so. Rice said the new company will probably just be called "Fox". The agreement was related to the disclosure of information for enabling Fox and Disney to assess and obtain antitrust approvals needed for the proposed acquisition of Fox by Disney including the indirect acquisition of Fox's interest in Sky.

In the meantime, Disney agreed to buy Fox assets, including its stake in Sky, in a separate deal, which is subject to regulatory clearance.

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