James Murdoch reveals Fox planning new bid for full control of Sky | Media | The Guardian
21st Century Fox chief executive claims not having complete control of pan-European pay-TV broadcaster is ‘not an end state that is natural for us’

James Murdoch has said that 21st Century Fox plans to make a renewed bid to take full control of pan-European pay-TV broadcaster Sky.

Murdoch, who was promoted to chief executive of Fox in June, said not having complete control of Sky is “not an end state that is natural for us”.

Fox owns 39% of Sky, which last year saw the UK operation pay £6.88bn to buy out its sister operations in Germany and Italy.

“The Sky businesses, we’ve only just brought them all together into one big European platform,” said Murdoch, speaking in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“That integration is going really well. The company is moving at a very fast pace and has grown in value enormously. We’ve also been clear that over time, having 40% of an unconsolidated asset is not an end state that is natural for us.”

Murdoch has form in making comments that end in a major acquisitive move.

Two years ago he foretold Sky UK’s takeover of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, telling a conference at the time that it was “not optimal” having separate Sky businesses across Europe.

However, Murdoch poured cold water on any near-term move for Fox to seek to take control of the enlarged Sky business.

“Right now, we’re 100% focused on supporting the company to get this integration going and get it done for the business to move forward, so there are no plans on the agenda right now,” he said.

Fox was forced to give up on an £8bn-plus bid to take full control of Sky UK in 2011, and Murdoch relinquished his chairmanship of the broadcaster and the company’s UK newspapers before moving to the US in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

In August last year, Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox scrapped an audacious bid to take over Time Warner, a move that would have created a media behemoth and was widely seen as the crowning deal of the mogul’s career.

In the interview published on Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan, promoted to co-executive chairman alongside his father at the same time as James, scotched any suggestion of a renewed bid.

“We’ve moved on from Time Warner,” said Lachlan Murdoch. “There was a point in time [when] it was a great opportunity, frankly, for both sets of shareholders, but we’ve moved on.”