Comcast Bids Higher Than Fox For Sky At £30bn Bid In Blind Auction

The blind bidding for Sky has been almost won by US cable giant Comcast after it submitted the highest bid in the auction which valued Sky at over more than £30bn.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox could not match up in the blind auction process which is a rare auction process that is conducted by UK’s Takeover Panel.

It was “a great day for Comcast”, said the company’s chairman and chief executive.

The shareholders of Sky have been advised to let the acquisition pass and said that the bid was an “excellent outcome” and “represents materially superior value”.

Sky is amongst Europe’s most profitable TV companies because of the 23 million paid subscribers that it possess and the transmission rights of Premier League football.

While Fox’s bid equated to £15.67 per share, Comcast proposed £17.28 per share in its bid.

Fox had been eager to acquire more than the 61 per cent of Sky that it did not own but its plan was usurped by Comcast.

During the peak of the battle, Fox had raised its offer to £24.5bn in July but a rival bid from Comcast was made at £26bn.

The bidding process was also hindered by regulatory issues with many regulators expressing concerns on issues related to media plurality and whether Murdoch will become very influential in the UK landscape.

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

It was the “beginning of the next exciting chapter for Sky”, said Jeremy Darroch, Sky chief executive.

He said: “As part of a broader Comcast we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe’s leading direct to consumer media company.”

Options are being considered by Fox about the 39 per cent strake that it owns in Sky, said the company in a statement.

“We are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast’s offer”, Fox added.

It has been over eight years now that the issue of takeover of Sky has been dangling amidst the bidding war.

This started with a bid for full control of what was then BSkyB by Murdoch’s News Corp company.

But the phone hacking scandal which hit Murdoch’s UK tabloid newspapers causing a huge dent in the reputation of the firm scuttled that bid.

By December 2016, News Corp had been broken up into the 21st Century Fox as one of the companies. The original bid was then revived. The entire bidding process was further complicated because most of Fox’s assets was bought by Disney – the acquisition process of which is set to be completed next year pending approval from international regulators.

The UK Takeover Panel ultimately brought an end to the bidding war through a very rare three round blind auction.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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