Hunt set to give go-ahead to BSkyB deal next week

By Ian Burrell,Media Correspondent
Saturday 22 October 2011 23:43

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has agreed with Ofcom, the media regulator, the terms that will allow News Corp to proceed with its bid to take complete control of BSkyB, with the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt expected to approve the deal next week.

Ofcom yesterday submitted its report to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and all parties now expect Mr Hunt to announce that the takeover can proceed.

Mr Hunt, who is this week in Brazil on an official visit with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, has previously indicated he is minded to accept News Corp's purchase of the 60.9 per cent of BSkyB shares it does not already own, provided it spins off Sky News into separate ownership. That remedy is expected to be sufficient to ensure that Mr Hunt does not feel the need to refer the bid to the Competition Commission.

The deal has been the subject of concerted opposition and a previous consultation exercise received 40,000 objections. Rival media groups have campaigned against the takeover, claiming it would give one company too much control over the British media. News Corp still has to negotiate a price with BSkyB shareholders, who have previously rejected a 700p-a-share offer as being 100p too low.

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