Monday 20 August 2018

Comcast's €25bn bid for Sky sees Murdoch's Fox dropped

US media group Comcast submitted a £22bn (€25bn) bid for Sky on Wednesday, prompting the European pay TV group to drop its support for a lower offer from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (21CF). Photo: Reuters
US media group Comcast submitted a £22bn (€25bn) bid for Sky on Wednesday, prompting the European pay TV group to drop its support for a lower offer from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (21CF). Photo: Reuters

Joe Mayes

US media group Comcast submitted a £22bn (€25bn) bid for Sky on Wednesday, prompting the European pay TV group to drop its support for a lower offer from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (21CF).

Sky's independent directors welcomed Comcast's £12.50-a-share bid and said they would now engage with both Comcast and Fox. They cautioned that neither bid could yet be put to shareholders and advised them to take no action for now.

The bid formalises an offer first made in February and puts pressure on Fox, which already has a 39pc stake in Sky, to lift its £10.75 a share cash offer. It said on Wednesday it remained committed to its offer and was considering its options.

The deal has been held up by concerns about the influence Mr Murdoch could wield over public opinion through owning all of the broadcaster as well as British newspapers including 'The Times' and 'The Sun'.

The proposed combination has been further complicated by Fox's agreement to sell many of its TV and film assets to Walt Disney, including its stake in Sky, for $52bn.

On Wednesday, Sky also welcomed commitments the US cable giant had made to address potential public-interest concerns over Sky News, its influential 24-hour news channel.

"As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the Independent Committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by 21CF on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the co-operation agreement entered into with 21CF on the same date," Sky said.

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Sky withdrawing its recommendation was what he hoped to achieve by formalising its offer. (Reuters)

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