21st Century Fox Eyes $11.5 billion

BSkyB hires investment banks Morgan Stanley and Barclays to arrange deals

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is “eyeing a windfall of as much as €8.5 billion ($11.5 billion)” from the sale of its stakes in pay TV operators in Germany and Italy to U.K. satcaster BSkyB, according to the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times newspaper.

BSkyB has hired investment banks Morgan Stanley and Barclays to arrange the deals.

BSkyB hopes to create a pan-European pay TV biz serving nearly 20 million households through a merger with Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. It is then likely to negotiate TV rights to films, TV series and possibly sports events on a pan-European basis.

To create the group, BSkyB would need to acquire 21st Century Fox’s 57% stake in Sky Deutschland, which is worth about €3.5 billion ($4.74 billion), and Fox’s 100% stake in Sky Italia, which is valued at between €3 billion ($4.06 billion) and €5 billion ($6.77 billion). Fox would retain its controlling 39% stake in BSkyB.

The merger is likely to attract the attention of competition regulators, who could block the deals. Minority shareholders in Sky Deutschland, including hedge fund investor Crispin Odey, could oppose that pact unless it came with a premium. “A nil-premium merger that massively undervalues the company does not make sense for minority shareholders,” Odey said last month.

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