Murdoch faces challenge as US giant Comcast also bids for Sky

Alicia Cross
March 2, 2018

Comcast said its bid of £12.50 a share was 16% higher than the 21st Century Fox offer.

"There are many permutations to these machinations, too many to mention here, but both Disney and Comcast want this asset so I bet a bidding war does ensue", the " Mad Money " host said on Tuesday. Media Secretary Matt Hancock will have the final say in the summer.

It comes down to this: Sky is a solid European business, and it boasts a huge library of exclusive, premium television content.

It's Sky's technology that first lured Comcast.

The satellite TV company has 23M customers, mainly in the UK, Italy and Germany. Sky Sports has a major stake in televising the English Premier League. The 86-year old mogul can either "enter a bidding war for Sky, or re-think his deal to sell Fox's entertainment assets to Disney chief Bob Iger".

The Competition and Markets Authority is set to issue its full report on the proposed takeover in May, but said the deal was not in the public interest in January.

The prospect of a Fox takeover, however, has raised several regulatory concerns.

In January, the competition regulator said in its provisional findings the Fox offer would not operate against the public interest in terms of either Fox or Sky having a genuine commitment to United Kingdom broadcasting standards.

Among Comcast's commitments that were seen as important for a government review of the takeover offer were a promise to keep Sky's West London headquarters campus and to support its continued content investment.

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The deal offer is yet another roadblock for Fox, which previously agreed to buy out the two-thirds of Sky it does not already own.

Disney has announced its intentions to buy Fox's entertainment assets, including Sky, but that also has to be approved in both the USA and Europe.

Roberts also highlighted why Comcast is the right partner for Sky, praising its "proven track record" of successful acquisitions led by NBCUniversal. Alex De Groote, a digital and media analyst at Cenkos Securities echoed this sentiment, indicated that the "opportunistic" bid by the US cable television behemoth would propel the companies into an all-out action.

If Disney refused, then Fox would have to find the money itself, "which means it is then looking at a loss if Disney did end up acquiring 100% of Sky".

The company is prepared to co-own Sky with either Fox or Disney, as long as Comcast held a majority stake, but would prefer a complete purchase.

The younger Roberts became Comcast's president in 1990 and CEO in 2002, having spent his whole career at the company.

"All bids, including this new one from Comcast, must be very carefully scrutinised".

Analysts from Liberum have said that there is a "very good chance" that Comcast's bid would go through.

Roberts said he had closely tracked what Sky had been doing for years, but last November, he had an unexpected reminder of Sky's influence as European's biggest pay-TV provider while in a cab with a colleague.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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