23 Sep 2018

Comcast outbids Fox with $58b bid for Sky

8:23 am on 23 September 2018

US cable giant Comcast has submitted the highest bid in the auction for broadcaster Sky, valuing the company at more than £30 billion ($NZ58b).

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Sky is now expected to recommend the bid to shareholders before offer documents are sent out. Photo: 123rf

Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch's Fox in a rare blind auction process set by the UK's Takeover Panel.

The firm's chairman and chief executive said it was "a great day for Comcast".

Sky is now expected to recommend the bid to shareholders before offer documents are sent out.

The UK company's 23 million subscribers and Premier League football rights make it one of Europe's most profitable TV companies.

Comcast's bid equated to £17.28 per share, beating Fox's of £15.67 per share.

Fox had looked set to take over the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own until Comcast topped its bid.

In July, Fox raised its offer to £24.5bn, but this was trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast.

The process has also been beset by regulatory issues amid concerns over media plurality and the degree of Mr Murdoch's influence over the UK media landscape.

"Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team," Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, said.

"This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.

"We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018."

The future of Sky has been hanging in the balance for more than eight years.

The process began when Mr Murdoch's News Corp company put forward a bid for full control of what was then BSkyB.

That bid was scuppered by the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed Mr Murdoch's UK tabloid newspapers and tarnished the firm's reputation.

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.

The process has been complicated by Disney's deal to buy most of Fox's assets, which is due to be completed next year if approved by international regulators.

-BBC

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