In what is the latest development in the acquisition battle between Comcast and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, Britain will most likely oppose the proposed takeover of British satellite broadcaster Sky by American cable giant Comcast, said Britain’s culture secretary on Monday.
He does not have storing intentions to interfere in the $30.7 billion deal where Sky has been proposed to be taken over by Comcast because “the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention”, said the culture secretary, Matt Hancock in a statement.
Fox has been attempting opt get complete control of Sky because the former already has a 39 per cent stake in the latter. And it’s amidst such an environment that comments from Hancock emerged. It has been since 2016 that Fox has been facing a number of regulatory roadblocks after it placed a bid for Sky back then. It is expected that a final decision about the bid would be made sometime in June as the deal is still being considered by Hancock.
It welcomed Hancock’s position and remained “focused on progressing our superior offer for Sky”, Comcast said in a statement.
Both the U.S. companies have been engaged in a bidding war for the British broadcaster. For each Sky share, 12.50 pounds, or about $16.83, in cash would be paid by Comcast under the terms of its offer. While Sky had initially offered its support for the Fox bid, it reversed its stand in April after receiving the proposal from Comcast.
There are over 23 million subscribers to Sky throughout multiple European countries and its assets include lucrative broadcasting rights for the English Premier League soccer games and other professional sports matches. The company also has an online streaming service. These have increased the attractiveness of the company for Fox and Comcast – evident from the competing bids.
There is another benefit for Comcast from the Sky deal. If Comcast can get the deal through, it would become difficult for Fox to sell most of its businesses to the Walt Disney Company as planned for a deal worth $52.4 billion.
Sky was founded by Murdoch in 1989 and has been trying to regain control over the company for quite a long time. A bid to purchase 61 percent of the company he does not already own was abandoned by Murdoch after allegations of phone-hacking by British news outlets turned into a raging scandal aimed at 21st Century Fox’s predecessor company.
The American cable company – Comcast has promised to create a board for the channel and maintain its financing and has said that it would ensure editorial independence of Sky News as a part of the bid offer. Investment in Britain’s film and television industries has also been promised by Comcast.
The comments of Hancock were acknowledged by Sky in a statement but it dd not comment any further. There was a rise of 0.5 per cent in the shares of the company to £13.62, in London.
(Adapted from NYTimes.com)