Fox raises Sky bid to $32.5-billion, all eyes on Comcast
Fox raises Sky bid to $32.5-billion, all eyes on Comcast
Comcast knows it will likely need to divest Fox's regional sports networks if it wants to buy the company's assets
12 July, 2018, 04:38
Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) on Wednesday raised its all-cash offer for Britain's Sky (SKYB.L) to $34 billion, topping a raised bid of $32.5 billion for the pay-TV group from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O).
Fox has faced several months of regulatory scrutiny to obtain approval for its $24.7 billion bid for the 61% of Sky it doesn't already own. At this point, Comcast is in with a £12.50 a share and, according to the report, Fox's new bid will be above £14.68 a share, which is where Sky closed on Monday.
Another wrench has been thrown in the ongoing saga of the Disney Fox deal.
"As the founding shareholder of Sky, we have remained deeply committed to bringing these two organizations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future", Fox said in a statement. "We have long admired Sky, which we believe is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast".
Tom Watson, a British Labour Party politician and opponent of Fox's bid to buy Sky, told Variety that a bidding war could be a good thing for shareholders but that it is more important to protect Sky. "The enhanced scale and capabilities of the combination will enrich Sky's ability to continue on its mission for years to come, especially at a time of dynamic change in our industry".
The world's biggest entertainment company and owner of NBC and Universal Pictures gate-crashed Murdoch's bid for Sky in February. Sky has 23 million customers in five European countries and also boasts a market-leading platform, its Q box, and a suite of premium TV content to lure and retain subscribers, including rights to Premier League soccer. The complaint alleges that Fox's prospectus filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission after the company accepted Disney's offer was incomplete.
The clock was ticking on Fox to make a higher bid for Sky, because Comcast faces a deadline of Friday to formally deliver its offer to shareholders of the London-based company, under United Kingdom takeover rules.
The battle takes place in the context of a broader struggle between Comcast and its rival Disney, which are both attempting to buy the bulk of Fox's assets, including its Sky stake.
"They're way behind the curve still", said Crispin Odey, founder of Odey Asset Management LLP, which owns shares of Sky.
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