BSkyB has agreed to acquire 21st Century Fox's 100 per cent stake in Sky Italia and 57.4 per cent stake in Sky Deutschland – a deal that could be worth up to around £7bn when completed and which will lead to the creation of a pan-European broadcasting firm.

The expanded business is to become the leading pay-TV operator in three of Europe's four largest markets as a result of the takeover, with 20 million customers across Italy, Germany, and the UK and Ireland.

In its announcement, BSkyB said its total cash outlay will be £4.9bn and the transfer of its 21 per cent share in the National Geographic channel. But depending on how many Sky Deutschland minority shareholders also accept the offer, the deal could rise to £7bn.

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Of the 97 million households that the enlarged BSkyB will have access to, the company claims approximately 66 million don't currently have a pay-TV service.

And the company estimates it can save up to £200m by the end of the second full financial year through savings achieved in areas such as IT, procurement and commissioning, with particular focus in Italy and the UK as the two larger businesses.

BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: "The three Sky businesses are leaders in their home markets and will be even stronger together. By creating the new Sky, we will be able to use our collective strengths and expertise to serve customers better, grow faster and enhance returns."

The announcement comes as BSkyB published its results for the year ending 30th June, with 342,000 new customers – its highest growth for three years – while Sky Sports viewing share reached its highest level for seven years.

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