Belfast Telegraph

Murdochs say Sky decision will indicate whether Britain is 'open for business'

The Murdoch family have piled further pressure on Culture Secretary Karen Bradley as they warned her treatment of their bid for Sky will prove a test case for how far Britain is "open for business".

Brothers James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox, and chairman Lachlan Murdoch penned a letter to Ms Bradley stressing that firms worldwide are carefully watching the outcome of the decision into the Sky deal.

They said their £11.7 billion swoop to take full control of Sky was the "most significant" investment in a UK company since the EU referendum.

Fox is waiting for Ms Bradley's decision on whether to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after she said at the end of June that she was "minded to" send it on for a full probe.

In the letter, which was written last Friday and published by Fox on Wednesday, the Murdoch brothers said they were "disappointed" by the "minded to" decision and warned important investment decisions are being put on hold by the delay.

They added there was the "broader risk" that lengthy delays could put other overseas firms off investing in Britain.

They said: " As one of the first, and the most significant investment to be proposed following last year's referendum on exiting the EU, our proposed transaction will be carefully scrutinised by others keen to gauge the Government's commitment to creating a climate conducive to investment, or in the words of the Prime Minister and several of your fellow ministers, 'open for business'."

It is understood that Fox did not put forward any concessions to dissuade Ms Bradley from referring the deal to the CMA by last Friday's deadline for responses.

But Fox did submit its response a week before the deadline, with the letter from the Murdoch brothers sent last Friday after efforts to meet with officials were rebuffed.

In a letter from its lawyers Allen & Overy earlier this week, Fox also took a swipe at former Labour leader Ed Miliband after he recently urged Ms Bradley "not to do a grubby deal with the Murdochs".

The letter urged Ms Bradley to dismiss "flagrant political attempts to interfere", adding Fox was c onfident she would make her decision in the "coming days".

It came after a Government spokesman last week reportedly said she would not make a decision before the parliamentary summer recess.

But a spokesman from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has since confirmed a decision has "not been made on the timing of any announcement".

Speaking in the Commons last month, Ms Bradley said an Ofcom report found the attempt by Fox to acquire the 61% of Sky it does not already own risks handing tycoon Rupert Murdoch's family "increased influence" over the UK's news agenda and the political process.

Mr Murdoch's bid comes after his last attempt at taking the business over through News Corporation in 2011.

The tilt faced opposition from media industry rivals and politicians before it was scuppered by acute pressure on the company brought about by phone-hacking claims involving News International.