LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - U.S. cable giant Comcast has offered to buy Sky for $31 billion in a surprise move, posing another hurdle to tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s attempts to buy the broadcaster.
Murdoch’s Fox has agreed to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own, but the deal has become bogged down in regulatory investigations. In the meantime, Fox has agreed to sell assets to Disney in a follow-on deal, including Sky.
Murdoch helped to launch Sky in 1990 before his holding was cut to around 40 percent during its flotation in 1994. He sought to buy the company back eight years ago but failed during a high-profile media and political scandal. Here is a timeline:
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp proposes to pay $12 billion to take full control of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
Mid 2010 to mid 2011
A phone-hacking scandal erupts at Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World, culminating in the closure of the paper and the appearance of Murdoch before parliament, which he describes as the “most humble day of my life”.
News Corp withdraws its bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB it does not own, in the face of widespread hostility.
Murdoch announces a plan to split his company in two, dividing his assets into a publishing business called News Corp and an entertainment-focused firm, 21st Century Fox, which holds the stake in BSkyB.
BSkyB agrees to pay $9 billion to buy Murdoch’s pay-TV companies in Germany and Italy, taking its hunt for growth into Europe by creating a media powerhouse with 20 million customers and renaming itself as Sky.
Fox strikes a $14.6 billion deal to buy Sky to unite Murdoch’s media empire across two continents and help it take on rivals like Netflix in the battle for viewers.
The British government asks broadcast regulator Ofcom to decide if the deal is in the public interest.
June 29, 2017
Britain says it intends to subject the deal to a further, in-depth investigation after finding it risks giving the media mogul too much power over the news agenda.
September 12, 2017
Britain’s culture secretary throws the deal into doubt when she asks regulators to consider whether Fox would uphold standards, having not previously raised such concerns.
September 14, 2017
Britain confirms it will refer Fox’s bid for Sky to a lengthy regulatory investigation.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts takes a London taxi to a Sky store, and is impressed with the products and how people talk about Sky - cab driver included.
December 14, 2017
Walt Disney Co strikes a deal to buy film, television and international businesses from Murdoch’s Fox for $52.4 billion in stock, including its holdings in Sky.
January 23, 2018
Britain’s competition regulator says Murdoch’s Sky bid, now worth $15.7 billion, should be blocked unless a way is found to prevent his family from influencing the network’s news output.
February 13, 2018
Sky secures rights to show 128 English Premier League soccer matches for three seasons from 2019/20 for 3.58 billion pounds, much lower than expected, boosting its shares and future earnings.
February 20, 2018
Murdoch strengthens an existing offer to protect the independence of Sky’s loss-making news channel to try to overcome regulatory concerns.
February 27, 2018
U.S. cable giant Comcast proposes a $31 billion deal to buy Sky, sending Sky’s shares up 21 percent. (Compiled by Alistair Smout Editing by Mark Potter)