BSkyB in talks to merge 21st Century Fox Pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy

UK satellite-television company British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) today said that it has initiated preliminary discussions with Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to evaluate the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.

It said in a statement, BSkyB has a clear set of plans to grow its business in the UK and Ireland, is executing these well and expects to continue to achieve excellent growth and returns for shareholders.

"At the same time, the Company continuously explores ways to create further value for shareholders. As part of this approach, the Company initiated preliminary discussions with 21st Century Fox to evaluate the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy," the BSkyB statement said.

Reacting to media speculation, the London-based company said, ''BSkyB believes at the right value, this combination would have the potential to create a world-class multinational pay TV group.''
These discussions have not progressed beyond a preliminary stage, no agreement has been reached on terms, value or transaction structure and there is no certainty that a transaction will occur, the company added.

21st Century Fox holds a 39-per cent stake in BSkyB, 55-per cent stake in Sky Deutschland and 100 per cent of Sky Italia.

Media reports over the weekend said that 21st Century Fox was planning to take full control of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia in a €10-billion ($13.8 billion) deal.

BSkyB said that its focus in respect of Sky Deutschland would be to acquire 21st Century Fox's controlling 57-per cent stake, which would result in BSkyB being required to make a takeover offer to the minority shareholders of Sky Deutschland as per German takeover laws.

BSkyB said that it would expect, subject to German minimum offer price rules, to make this offer without a premium.

It also added that any potential agreement would be subject to external factors including the Sky Deutschland share price continuing to trade on an undisturbed basis.

In a separate statement, 21st Century Fox said, ''while the company has carried out numerous internal discussions regarding the organisational and ownership structure of the European Sky-branded satellite platforms, no agreement between the parties has ever been reached."

In 2010, News Corporation, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, tried to take full control of UK's largest pay TV provider BSkyB. (See: News Corporation bids for full control of BskyB)

Although the deal was cleared by the UK government after News Corp accepted the latter's undertakings on media plurality concerns, but transaction was derailed in 2011 by the infamous phone hacking scandal of Murdoch's British tabloid News of the World.