Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
News Corp.’s $A2 billion ($2.1B) bid for James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings, which owns 25% of Australian pay-TV platform Foxtel and 50% of the Fox Sports channels, has been cleared by the government regulator. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it would not oppose the proposed acquisition, which would give News full ownership of the sports channels and boost its stake in Foxtel to 50%. “Given that News Corporation has no interests in other free-to-air or subscription TV entities in Australia,” agency chairman Rod Sims said, “the ACCC’s view is that this acquisition is unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market.” The ACCC is still assessing a possible counterbid for Packer’s CMH by Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings, which has a 24% stake in CMH. Packer has recommended shareholders accept News’ bid. Some media analysts believe a counter-offer from Seven is unlikely because News controls the management of Foxtel and Fox Sports and Packer prefers to sell to News.
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