Sky Backs Comcast Deal, CEO Darroch Says ‘Momentum Will Only Increase’

Ivan Schwartz
September 24, 2018

USA firm Comcast had originally tabled a £26 billion, £14.75 a share bid for Sky, while Fox's offer for the 61% of the United Kingdom broadcaster it does not already own valued it at £24.5 billion at £14 a share.

In a blind auction organized by the United Kingdom takeover regulator Saturday, the cable giant agreed to pay £17.28 ($22.60) a share-almost $40 billion in total-for Sky, Europe's largest pay-TV group.

"I'm pretty excited - we've got a good price for it", said Sky investor Crispin Odey, founder of Odey Asset Management.

Fox countered by raising its offer to £27.6billion, but was later overpowered by a higher Comcast offer.

Buying Sky allows Roberts to expand the content and distribution model he has embraced since taking control of NBCUniversal seven years ago.

The bid was revived in December 2016, by which time News Corp had been broken up, leaving 21st Century Fox as one of its successors.

At the moment, absolutely nothing, as the deal will only be approved by Sky shareholders in October.

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Not bad for a 42-year-old with four back surgeries who returned to competition in December at No. 1,199. "It's been tough. Since his five-win season in 2013, Woods was cursed with chipping woes, poor putting and snap hooks off the tee.

But Comcast's chief executive Briant Roberts quickly hailed the outcome as "a great day" for his company.

One hedge fund manager who holds Sky shares said nobody could complain about the Comcast price. With the Sky takeover, Comcast will become the biggest pay TV provider in the world, with around 52 million customers after adding Sky's 23 million subscribers.

"Consumers are no longer buying whole cable packages but are rather going for 'skinny bundles" with SVODs (subscription video on demand) such as Netflix, which offer content at a lower price point; acquiring Sky means that Comcast can also diversify its route to market'. Comcast estimates that owning Sky will create $500 million in synergies, partly through selling Sky content in the USA and NBC programming in Europe. It would also represent a victory in Comcast's chequered history of deal making.

Even if Fox had won the battle for Sky, Murdoch, 87, was poised to sell the business to Disney along with most of Fox's other assets next year.

But Sky shareholders still have the option of backing the Disney-Fox offer. We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal worldwide operations, and we intend to maintain Sky's United Kingdom headquarters. The loss of Sky partly stymies Disney CEO Bob Iger's goal of establishing more direct ties to consumers and expanding his worldwide business.

In July, Fox raised its offer to £24.5bn, but this was trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast. The first was thwarted in 2011 by a phone-tapping scandal at his United Kingdom newspaper business.

Other reports by GizPress

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