BSkyB can appeal against ITV stake sale, rules court news
21 March 2009

British pay-TV company BSkyB can appeal against the competition commission's demand that it sell most of its controversial 17.9 per cent shareholding in free-to-air broadcaster ITV, the UK's court of appeal has decided.

The ruling means that Sky will be able to cling on to the stake for several more months, further delaying what looked like becoming a firesale of ITV's shares. The dispute has already dragged on for more than a year.

BSkyB said on Friday it welcomed the decision, and added that the court would schedule a hearing in due course.

Britain's Competition Appeal Tribunal had ruled in September that BSkyB would have to reduce the stake to below 7.5 per cent, rejecting an earlier appeal by BSkyB as being without substance.

Under James Murdoch, who was then the chief executive officer, BSkyB bought the stake for 940 million pounds ($1.4 billion), effectively blocking cable group NTL, now renamed Virgin Media, from buying ITV. Sky bought its ITV shares at 135p each; they are now trading at 21p.

ITV had welcomed previous rulings ordering BSkyB to reduce the stake, saying it should sell the entire holding or at least trim it to 4.9 per cent as it could otherwise exert influence.

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BSkyB can appeal against ITV stake sale, rules court