Bidding war for Sky looms as Comcast offers £22bn

Anna Jefferson
April 26, 2018

The US cable company first announced in a shock move on 27 February that it meant to derail Rupert Murdoch's long-standing aim of full control of the Sky pay-TV group with a cash proposal of £12.50 per Sky share, implying an equity value of $31 billion (£22 billion) for the fully diluted share capital of Sky.

Britain's competition regulator is conducting an investigation into whether Fox's bid for Sky would give Murdoch and his family - who already own several other media titles in the United Kingdom - too much control over the country's news media.

Comcast's chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts said Sky withdrawing its recommendation was what it wanted to achieve by formalising its offer on Wednesday.

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"As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the independent committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by Twenty-First Century Fox on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the Co-operation Agreement entered into with Twenty-First Century Fox on the same date", Sky's independent directors have now stated.

Notes the Wall Street Journal this morning: "Separately, Comcast is weighing whether to play interloper on the pending Walt Disney Co. acquisition of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, people familiar with the situation say".

Comcast said it would pay approximately $17.76 for each Sky share, 16 percent more than Foxs offer. "Until the relevant pre-conditions are satisfied, Sky shareholders are advised to take no action", Sky added.

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It has said it plans to agree several legally binding commitments in the deal, including maintaining the company headquarters in Osterley, London for at least five years. Minutes later, Fox said it's committed to its own Sky bid and is considering options.

Comcast is working with Sky's directors to see if its deal will be recommended to shareholders. It also owns movie studio Universal Pictures, home to "Minions" and "Jason Bourne" movies and some theme parks. If he bought Sky, Murdoch would have "too much control over news providers in the United Kingdom across all media platforms and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda", the CMA said.

Dang reported from NY.

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