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European Commission approves Comcast bid for Sky

European Union antitrust regulators on June 15 unconditionally approved Comcast Corp.'s bid for the British pay TV giant Sky PLC, concluding that "the transaction would raise no competition concerns in Europe."

The proposed transaction would combine Sky — the leading pay TV operator in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the U.K. — with Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator. Comcast's holdings include Universal Pictures, one of the six major Hollywood film studios, as well as the NBC (US) broadcast network and multiple cable channels.

Sky also received a competing takeover offer from 21st Century Fox Inc., which already controls 39% of the British satellite company.

The European Commission said Comcast and Sky are mainly active in different markets in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the U.K. and Spain and thus compete with each other only to a limited extent, mostly in acquiring TV content and in the wholesale supply of basic pay TV channels. The commission approved the deal without conditions.

The news comes after the British government conditionally approved Fox's proposed £11.7 billion takeover of Sky and said it would not intervene in Comcast's counterbid. The European Commission also previously unconditionally cleared Fox's offer for Sky.

In April, Comcast formalized its bid to acquire Sky for £22 billion, kicking off a takeover battle with Fox for the British pay TV giant.