Comcast bids £22.1bn to buy Sky

Posted March 02, 2018

"We think Sky is an outstanding company", said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.

U.S. broadcaster Comcast has put forward a proposal to buy Sky, raising the prospect of a bidding war for the European TV provider with 21st Century Fox.

The battle for Sky is further complicated by Disney's $52 billion bid for Fox assets, including Sky.

Chief Executive Roberts said the visit was one of a number of things that confirmed Sky as a "jewel" that his company should try to acquire, as Comcast looks to boost global revenues as growth in the United States slows.

But the takeover is dogged by concerns over the media tycoon's political influence in Britain. It also owns valuable television channels, including Sky News, Sky Sports and Sky Movies. "Adding Sky to the Comcast family of businesses will increase our global revenues from 9% to 25% of Company revenues", Roberts said.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger called Sky a "crown jewel" among Fox assets in a December interview with Bloomberg TV. This month, the company successfully won continued United Kingdom broadcast rights for England's Premier League soccer matches for 2019-2022.

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Comcast already has NBC Universal film and TV assets, however, the deal "would give it a very powerful distribution pan-European network".

Comcast said the combination with Sky would be beneficial to Comcast shareholder and be accretive to Comcast's free cash flow per share in the first year.

Comcast's £22.1bn offer for Sky is a £12.50-per-share all-cash offer which represents a 16% premium to 21st Century Fox's current recommended bid.

Logically there's no reason for Murdoch to go to the wire for Sky when he wants to sell it to Disney - eventually - anyway.

Fox will be furious after Comcast's bid, said Crispin Odey, Murdoch's former son-in-law and founder of hedge fund manager Odey Asset Management, which owns a 0.8% stake in Sky according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Comcast said it had only a minimal presence in the British media market and did not see any plurality concerns over its proposal. "Sky's content relationships are with some of the same companies that Comcast has relationships with such as HBO".

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Fox didn't immediately comment on the Comcast offer. He said Sky's chief executive Jeremy Darroch had shown him an early preview of the Sky Q TV platform box, and that several people had worked as executives for both Comcast and Sky.

However, Comcast has said it would like to own the whole of Sky.

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In December previous year, Walt Disney agreed to buy the bulk of 21st Century Fox's business, including its 39% Sky stake. "Unless Fox comes back with a raised counterbid, then the rational solution [for shareholders] is to accept the Comcast bid", Whittaker said.

"We were really terribly impressed", Mr Roberts said. In reaction to that, Fox has in recent weeks offered new concessions, including an extended commitment to United Kingdom news channel Sky News, to seal regulatory approval of the deal. They said not only would the higher bid be attractive, but the "lower regulatory risk" would also be appealing.

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