News Corp. stake triggered investigation

BERLIN — The European Commission has extended its review of News Corp.’s bid to acquire control of German pay TV operator Premiere as it considers recommendations to ease competition concerns.

The commission’s review, which was due June 11, will now continue until June 25.

With a 25% stake, News Corp. is Premiere’s single biggest shareholder and has steadily increased its share in the Munich-based paybox since January, when it first purchased a 14.58% stake from cable operator Unitymedia. Last month News Corp. acquired additional shares, raising its stake from 22.7% to 25%.

Murdoch is looking to further increase his influence at Premiere by doubling the size of the company’s supervisory board to accommodate News Corp. reps at the next annual general meeting on June 12.

News Corp. is not expected to make a full takeover bid for the company, 42% of which is publicly traded.

The European Commission has said that in its view News Corp.’s acquisition qualified for review under the European Union’s merger regulation, which involves “control” of a company.

The commission’s review will determine whether it will give an unrestricted green light, place conditions on the deal or conduct a more in-depth investigation.

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