Culture Secretary Karen Bradley confirmed an in-depth investigation into the takeover two days after signalling her intention that the deal be scrutinised on grounds of broadcasting standards and the level of influence it would give Rupert Murdochowned companies in the UK.
He owns newspapers including The Sun and The Times through News Corp, while Fox already holds a 39 per cent stake in Sky.
The Competition and Markets Authority has about six months in which to probe the merger and provide her with advice, after which she will decide whether it can go ahead and, if so, whether conditions should be attached.
Fox said it would “engage constructively” with the CMA, adding: “We hope the findings of this process will be respected by the Secretary of State.
Fox chief executive, Murdoch’s son James, said Sky had “reached new heights” and was a world leader in an intensely competitive sector, but past performance was no guarantee of future results.
He said: “We’re eager to provide Sky with the resources, reach and creative sparks to keep pace against a new breed of competitors that now include some of the largest companies in the world, but none of whom have the local depth of investment and commitment to the UK and to Europe.
“Scale provides the confidence to take risks and support the development of new technologies and innovation but we’re not after scale for scale’s sake, nor should scale come at the expense of authenticity and quality.
“Those factors all played into our rationale for moving forward with this transaction, built on our belief that there exists huge opportunity for companies and countries willing to act decisively and capitalise on the economic and social benefits this industry can create.
“Inward investment in the UK creative economy, and the positive signal it sends to companies around the world, is more important than ever as the UK prepares to chart a course outside the EU.
“If the UK truly is ‘open for business’ post-Brexit, we look forward to moving through the regulatory review process.”