Disney on the hook to buy Sky if Fox can’t buy it first

Bob and Rupert
Disney CEO Bob Iger, left, and 21st Century Fox's Rupert Murdoch. (Image: The Walt Disney Company)

The Walt Disney Company will be required to make a bid for European satellite operator Sky if its deal for 21st Century Fox’s assets closes before Fox can finalize its bid to buy the rest of Sky.

The decision comes from U.K. regulatory body the Takeover Panel, which is part of the review process for Fox’s $25.8 billion bid to buy the 61% of Sky is doesn’t currently own. If that deal doesn’t close before Disney’s $52.4 billion deal for Fox, then Disney is required to make a mandatory offer for Sky at a price of £10.75 per share.

Any deal Disney is required to make for Sky would cost the same as Fox’s bid for the operator and would only be required if Fox doesn’t close its deal for Sky first.

“21CF remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced on 15th December 2016, which is supported by revised remedies recently offered to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) with whom 21CF has been co-operating in order to bring the UK regulatory process to a swift and satisfactory conclusion,” Fox said in a statement.

RELATED: Disney wants to buy Sky News regardless of how its Fox deal pans out

The new regulatory requirement adds yet another wrinkle to an already complicated acquisition process that involves Disney, Fox, Sky and Comcast.

Earlier this month, 21st Century Fox said the Walt Disney Company is interested in buying U.K.-based Sky News regardless of whether its $52.4 billion deal for certain Fox assets goes through. Disney’s intent was revealed amid new remedies Fox submitted to the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is reviewing Fox’s bid for Sky.

In the meantime, Comcast is still in the mix with a competing $31 billion bid for Sky after missing out on the deal for Fox’s entertainment assets that went to Disney.

“We think Sky is an outstanding company,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement at the time. “It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the U.K., Italy and Germany. Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming. It has great people and a very strong and capable management team.”