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James Murdoch warns over Sky bid probe

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James Murdoch has warned the government that blocking News Corp's proposed takeover of Sky could threaten the media giant's future investment in the UK.

Business secretary Vince Cable has ordered Ofcom to investigate News Corp's bid to acquire the 61% of Sky that it does not already own. European regulators are also currently reviewing the proposed deal.

Answering questions from investors at the Morgan Stanley TMT conference in Barcelona, Murdoch said that News Corp had always campaigned for a "level playing field and to have competition policy applied with an even hand", reports the Financial Times.

Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corp Europe and Asia, urged the British government to look at the bigger picture when considering the takeover.

"While I'd say I don't think the grounds for public interest or plurality intervention are very strong, I do think that governments need to make some choices," he said.

"I think from a policy perspective, the government really needs to assess the benefits of having - and this is across any place - a digital TV business that is a world leader, really centred in the UK marketplace with all of the things that it brings, versus potentially jeopardising an £8bn investment in the UK, with a prolonged plurality process."

Murdoch also issued a thinly-veiled threat that blocking the Sky bid could result in News Corp taking its business activities to more "welcoming" places. He highlighted that the media giant has created around 30,000 jobs in the UK over the years with its digital TV and newspaper businesses.

"I think from our perspective, from India to Italy and to Germany, countries are becoming more welcoming of investment and more welcoming of what we can bring, as they really recognise what these investments in the media sector [bring]," he said.

"At a time when jobs and innovation and skills are really at a premium, and are so needed, particularly in places like the UK. So I think the regulatory environment is a wide range of different issues but sometimes I think particularly in this sector... there can be a lack of clarity in what is really being weighed up and what the benefits of investment are."

Also at the conference, Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said that there has been "no bigger supporter of Sky than News Corp over the last 21 years". He also stressed that its "very much business as usual" for the satellite broadcaster while the regulatory process goes ahead.

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