Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Comcast beats Fox in Sky auction with $39B bid

Comcast beats Fox in Sky auction with $39B bid

However, the deal was challenged by Comcast earlier this year with a $30 billion offer to buy the British telecom and media company, marking the start of a long acquisition battle with 21st Century Fox.

USA cable giant Comcast bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 pounds a share offer by Fox, the Takeover Panel said in a statement shortly after final bids were made on Saturday. Roberts, who spent Saturday in a London hotel orchestrating the auction, had previously tried to acquire the bulk of Fox - only to be outbid by Walt Disney Co.

'We couldn't be more excited by the opportunities in front of us.

Disney has previously said the Sky bid was "separate from, and not conditional on, Disney's acquisition of Fox".

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Disney's $71 billion deal for Fox brought it franchises such as the "X-Men" and hit shows like "The Simpsons".

In a statement, Sky recommended that shareholders accept Comcast's offer and sell their shares immediately. The fund manager owns 0.6 per cent of Sky shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Murdoch's son James, now chairman of Sky, was instrumental in building the company into the leading European pay TV group, with operations in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and more than 23 million customers attracted to its top-flight sport and entertainment content. It has been boosting its investment in original TV productions such as 1920s sex-and-crime saga Babylon Berlin and Britannia, a period drama about the Roman conquest of Britain.

But by paying such a general price for a satellite television business like, which itself is prey to the disruptive forces of the video streaming services, Comcast looks to the increasing its exposure to a model already under threat.

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Comcast viewed Sky as a way to win a foothold in Europe and end its sole dependence on the United States. "In our view, Disney will become a much more complicated company for the Street to analyze upon closure of the Fox transaction, but becoming a de-factor joint venture partner on Sky with Comcast complicates the situation even further, in our opinion".

"Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast's offer", they wrote. The loss of Sky partly stymies Disney CEO Bob Iger's goal of establishing more direct ties to consumers and expanding his global business.

Philadelphia-based Comcast won a 24-hour auction conducted on Saturday.

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