Sky, 21st Century Fox Could Combine Forces To Dominate European Football Broadcasting
Sky and 21st Century Fox "could use their combined financial firepower to dominate European football broadcasting," City analysts said as UEFA kicked off an auction of rights to its club competitions, according to Christopher Williams of the London TELEGRAPH. There was "growing speculation" in the Square Mile that the planned Rupert Murdoch takeover of Sky "will lead to a bid to buy up rights to the Champions League and Europa League across the continent," locking out rivals such as BT in Britain and Mediaset in Italy. Investment firm Macquarie analyst Guy Peddy said, "Sky now has the potential to bid more aggressively in the U.K. and Italy, and even add new jurisdictions to its portfolio, creating a stepping stone to a pan-European launch of [the streaming service] Now TV." Bidding for UEFA rights across Europe could give Sky an "edge, allowing it to outbid rivals and expand its empire." Fox’s backing "could also allow Sky to take revenge on BT," which "shocked it" three years ago by acquiring exclusive U.K. rights to all European club competitions for £897M ($1.14B). Peddy said that BT faced "additional rights risks" as a result of Fox’s planned takeover (TELEGRAPH, 12/13).
WANTING CLARITY: The BBC reported another City shareholder "has called on Sky's independent directors to explain why they have backed a takeover" by 21st Century Fox. Richard Marwood of Royal London Asset Management has demanded more information. Marwood: "Those independent directors have taken advice, and we think that they should share that with shareholders, to actually allow the rest of us to see [if] £10.75 ($13.64) is the right price, so we are all acting from the same information." Standard Life and Jupiter Asset Management "have already questioned the supposed independence of the Sky board," pointing out that Murdoch's son James is both chair of Sky and CEO of Fox. Chase Carey, a former CEO of Fox TV and co-COO of Murdoch's newspaper group, News Corp., is also on the Sky board (BBC, 12/14).