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A&O and HSF take lead roles as 21st Century Fox tunes in on anticipated Sky takeover

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) are lead advisers in 21st Century Fox’s takeover bid for Sky, as a ‘possible offer’ valuing the company at £18.5bn was agreed ‘in principle’ on Friday (9 December).

The cash offer values Sky shares at £10.75 each, £18.5bn in total, which is 36% more than its market close price on 8 December. 21st Century Fox already owns 39.1% of Sky, and according to reports it would pay approximately £11.25bn for full ownership.

The offer is subject to approval from Sky’s shareholders, excluding 21st Century Fox shareholders, as ‘certain material terms’ are still to be agreed, according to a release by the international media giant.

As lead advisers to 21st Century Fox, A&O’s team was led by co-head of antitrust Antonio Bavasso, corporate partner David Broadley and M&A partners Seth Jones and Simon Toms.

Also advising 21st Century Fox are M&A New York partners Howard Ellin from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partners Patrick Ryan and Sinead O’Shea.

Meanwhile UK satellite broadcaster Sky is understood to be advised by HSF, with a team led by head of corporate Stephen Wilkinson.

News Corp made an £8bn takeover bid for Sky back in 2010, which was then retracted in 2011 while the hacking trial was conducted. Regulatory concerns regarding media ownership have also been raised regarding combining Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media giant with Europe’s biggest pay television broadcaster.

HSF and A&O also led for Sky and 21st Century Fox respectively in 2014, when Sky (then called BskyB) concluded a deal worth up to £7.4bn to buy European sister companies Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia from 21st Century Fox.

Both HSF and A&O declined to comment.