Rupert “Mr Sky TV” Murdoch’s News Corp and BSkyB could agree the terms of a £9.3bn takeover bid as early as 29 July, when the satellite broadcaster is due to announce its full-year results.
The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, gave News Corp the green light to acquire the 60.9% of BSkyB it does not already own on Thursday – subject to a short public consultation that ends midday 8 July – on the proviso that Sky News is spun off as a separate company to allay plurality concerns.
Observers believe Hunt is keen to give final confirmation by 19 July when the summer parliamentary recess begins – otherwise the decision will be delayed until parliament returns on 5 September.
Nick Bell, equity analyst at Jefferies, says there are a couple of “sticking points” – how to value Sky News and including the BSkyB’s final dividend in the bid price – but doesn’t see these as a major impediment to agreeing a price.
Under an agreement struck between News Corp and BSkyB after it made its initial approach last June, the two sides have two months to reach a recommended deal with Sky’s independent directors from when Hunt gives final approval.
If this is not successful then over the following three-month period any offer by News Corp would need acceptance of 70% of Sky’s shareholders – News Corp already owns 39.1% so the company would need the support of half of the investors controlling the remaining 60%.
News Corp proposed a 700p a share offer last June – when BSkyB was trading under 600p – which equates to about £7.8bn. If it ups its offer to 875p it will have to beef up its offer to about £9.3bn – a further £1.5bn.
If everything were to go smoothly in the takeover process News Corp could complete the transaction by the middle of October