Disney Faces Lengthy Bidding War as Comcast Bids for Sky TV
01:18, Mar 2, 2018
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Comcast, a US$184 billion media giant which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was offering 12.50 pounds per share, significantly higher than the 10.75 pounds per share agreed by Fox.
21st Century Fox, which now owns 39% of Sky, submitted its proposal to take full control of the European pay-TV group in December 2016, but "the takeover has been repeatedly held up by regulatory concerns that Murdoch controls too much media in Britain", says Reuters.
While Fox's 39 percent stake in Sky and the agreed takeover by Murdoch has produced complications around the company, it also presented the opportunity to bid, and Roberts said that his London visit was a reminder of Sky's fundamental value.
The Competition and Markets Authority had suggested ways Fox could address its concerns, including spinning off SkyNews, or "behavioural" changes to protect the media organisation from the direct influence of the Murdoch Family Trust.
He also described Sky as an "outstanding company" and said he was "confident" Comcast's offer would be approved by regulators.
Britain confirms it will refer Fox's bid for Sky to a lengthy regulatory investigation.
"The deal would have attractions on a number of fronts, not least of which would be the removal of complexity from the current tripartite discussions between Fox, Disney and Sky". There's still time for Fox to come back with a counter-offer though, so a bidding war may well commence.
21st Century Fox, which owns 40% of Sky, has been trying to buy the remaining stake since the end of 2016 but has faced repeated regulatory hurdles.
The transaction would increase Comcast's worldwide revenues from 9% to 25% of the company's revenues, and would boost its free cash flow per share in the first year after the transaction is finalized, he added. "We already have a strong presence in London through our NBC Universal worldwide operations, and we intend to maintain Sky's United Kingdom headquarters", Comcast chairman Brian Roberts said, via Recode.
Comcast's slim operations in Britain mean the bid should raise few competition concerns.
Given the strategic importance of Sky to Fox and Disney, a counteroffer well above Comcast's is now very likely, said Jerry Dellis, an analyst at Jefferies in London.
When Comcast boss Brian Roberts was weighing up a $31 billion offer for British broadcaster Sky, a trip to see Sky's products in store, and the knowledge of the London cab driver that took him there, helped to make up his mind.
A more attractive option for Sky?
Roberts also highlighted why Comcast is the right partner for Sky, praising its "proven track record" of successful acquisitions led by NBCUniversal. Comcast has a London presence through NBCUniversal global operations already.
Following Comcast's announcement, shares in Sky jumped 18 percent in early trading on Tuesday to over £13. How the $183 billion group's own shareholders will benefit is unclear: Comcast's offer contains lots of detail about supporting creative industries and young people in Britain, but little about financial returns.
21st Century Fox proposed Sky takeover faces a setback.
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