The Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said today it would not oppose the proposed acquisition by News Corp of 100% of the shares in Consolidated Media Holdings (CMH), controlled by James Packer.
Media holdings company CMH owns 50% of Fox Sports, and has a 25% stake in Foxtel.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. whose local entity News Ltd already owns a 25% share in Foxtel and 50% of Fox Sports, will now entirely own Fox Sports and up its stake in the Pay TV giant to 50%, if the $2bn deal gets final approval.
This also means Telstra and News would be joint owners of Foxtel, which recently acquired regional Pay TV operator Austar, if the deal goes ahead.
CMH is 50% owned by billionaire James Packer who is looking to focus on his other casino interests while its other main shareholder Kerry Stokes has yet to approve the deal.
Despite News Ltd’s already significant interests in the Aussie Pay TV industry, where Foxtel is the main player, the ACCC’s “view is that this acquisition is unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market,” chairman Rod Sims said.
“Given that News Corporation has no interests in other free-to-air or subscription television entities in Australia, the ACCC considered that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to materially change News Corporation’s incentives in relation to the supply of content in Australia,” Mr Sims said.
However, the watchdog said it is “continuing to assess” the proposed acquisition of 100% of CMH shares by Seven Group Holdings, chaired by Kerry Stokes, which could stop the News-Foxtel deal in its tracks.