BSkyB Shareholders Approve Sky Europe Deal

British Sky Broadcasting Group shareholders overwhelming approved the purchase of European satellite TV providers Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland from 21st Century Fox, a move that brings the $9.3 billion transaction another step closer to completion.

About 96% of BSkB shareholders voted in favor of the deal in a special meeting held yesterday. 21st Century Fox announced its intention to sell its stakes in the European satellite companies – it also owns a 39% stake in BSkyB – in July. The deal already has received approval from the European Commission, but is awaiting the green light from German regulators.

Fox will receive about $8.6 billion in cash ($7.2 billion after taxes) from the deal, money that was initially expected to be used in its unsolicited bid for Time Warner Inc. Fox abandoned that pursuit in August  after being rebuffed by Time Warner management, and has said instead that it will increase its planned repurchase of its own stock and invest in its existing operations. Time Warner, which said that it believed its growth opportunities were better if it remained independent, said yesterday that its Turner Broadcasting System unit would lay off about 1,475 employees, or about 10% of its 14,000-member workforce. 

Turner earlier had said it would spend about $10.8 billion over nine-years for rights to National Basketball Association games.