08:48, June 29 88 0

2017-06-29 08:48:07
A&O and HSF lead as competition concerns stall Sky takeover bid

Sky’s £11.7bn takeover by 21st Century Fox has been stalled, with Allen & Overy (A&O) and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) set to advise on the impending Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) review.

Despite the deal being approved by the European Commission in April, the UK Government today (29 June) decided to refer the matter to the CMA.

Members states are able to take measures into their own hands to protect their interests. One concern is that 21st Century Fox would “acquire decisive influence” over Sky as a result of the transaction. The buyer is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Both firms have represented the companies throughout the merger talks, with HSF taking the lead for the target Sky.

HSF is a longstanding adviser to the FTSE 100 giant, with a team led by corporate partners Stephen Wilkinson and Mark Bardell. The pair are supported by employment partner Mark Ife, tax partner Howard Murray and US securities partner Dinesh Banani.

Competition matters will be handled by partner Stephen Wisking in London, as well as Kyriakos Fountoukakos.

A&O’s competition team will also play a pivotal role in the deal discussions and its team for 21st Century Fox is led by firm practice head Antonio Bavasso.

Corporate and finance matters are being handled by partners David Broadley, Seth Jones and Simon Toms.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom New York partner Howard Ellin is also advising the acquirer on US corporate aspects, with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Patrick Ryan working on financing matters.

Deutsche Bank, which is acting as lead financial adviser to 21st Century Fox, was advised by Ashurst. The firm’s team was led by partners Adrian Clark, Robert Ogilvy Watson and Tim Rennie.

21st Century Fox currently owns 39.1 per cent of Sky and it has long been speculated in the City that it would seek to buy full control.

However, the decision by the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley to refer the matter to the CMA stalls Murdoch in his bid to achieve full ownership.

She said she was “minded” to do so and will make a further decision on the deal next month. All parties are able to make representations by 14 July.