Murdoch confident that the Fox takeover of Sky will go ahead despite concerns of regulator
The Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox has said it continues to expect UK approval of its Sky takeover, despite a provisional finding that the deal was not in the public interest.
Chief executive James Murdoch said the firm was working with authorities to resolve concerns. Mr Murdoch made the remarks on a call with financial analysts to discuss the firm’s quarterly earnings.
Last year, the firm struck a deal to sell assets, including Sky, to Disney. That deal would leave Fox more narrowly focused on news and sports. It is also pending approval by regulators in the US and elsewhere.
The firm said the two transactions are designed to set up the firm’s companies for long term growth.
The Sky deal, in which would Fox would buy the 61% it does not own, pre-dates the plans for Disney and has been delayed amid opposition in the UK.
In January, the UK Competition and Markets Authority found that if the deal went ahead as planned, it would give the Murdoch family too much control over news providers in the UK.
Mr Murdoch said the firm continues to expect that deal to be approved by the end of June.
“We’ll continue to engage constructively… to address their concerns ahead of their May first final report,” he said.
Fox said quarterly revenue climbed to more than $8bn (£5.8bn), up 4.6% compared with the same period in 2016.
The firm’s cable networks, which include its flagship Fox News channel, drove the gains, which were stronger than expected.
Profits more than doubled to $1.9bn, due to a $1.34bn one-off benefit from changes to the US tax code.
Fox chairman Lachlan Murdoch said Fox is focused on live sports as it plots a future as a smaller company.
Last week, the firm said it had signed a five-year deal granting broadcast rights to Thursday night American football games.
Analysts on the call questioned the costs of the deal amid rating declines for the sport.