Sky welcomes formal £22bn bid from Comcast
The committee that was formed to evaluate a bid for European pay-television giant Sky from 21st Century Fox has now backed an alternative offer from rival media giant Comcast that was formally submitted today.
Comcast, which owns US national network NBC and is the world’s largest broadcasting and cable TV company by revenue, has made a formal bid worth £22 billion bid ($30.6 billion), valuing Sky shares at £12.50 each, a 16-per-cent premium on the bid from Fox, which is headed up by Rupert Murdoch.
The Comcast offer is for a controlling
stake of 50 per cent plus one share, meaning that Fox would retain its
39-per-cent holding in Sky, which has 23 million customers in the UK, Ireland,
Germany, Austria and Italy.
Fox had previously agreed a deal worth £11.7 billion to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own, although it has yet to receive regulatory clearance in the UK, with the Competition and Markets Authority having provisionally blocked the takeover on the grounds of media plurality.
It is understood that Fox is now considering its position and whether to submit a higher bid following the Comcast offer.
In response to Comcast’s submission, the Sky committee said: “As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the Independent Committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by 21CF (21st Century Fox) on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the Co-operation Agreement entered into with 21CF on the same date.”
Announcing the offer, Brian Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, said: “Sky will be our platform for growth across Europe. The combined customer base of approximately 52m will allow us to invest more in original and acquired programming and innovation as we strive to deliver a truly differentiated customer experience.”
The media plurality issues centre on 24-hour news channel Sky News, as Murdoch's other assets include News UK, a News Corp subsidiary and the owner of leading UK daily newspapers The Sun and The Times, plus their Sunday editions, and national commercial radio station TalkSport.
In order to assuage the competition concerns Fox has pledged to fund a fully independent Sky-branded news service for the next 10 years.
Comcast, for its part, has said that if its offer is accepted it will keep Sky News and the broadcaster’s headquarters in west London, and does not anticipate any media plurality or regulatory issues.