Tuesday 11 December 2018

Comcast launches late €25bn Sky bid

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Kate Holton

US cable giant Comcast has offered to buy Sky for $31bn (€25.3bn) in an unsolicited approach, taking on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Bob Iger’s Walt Disney in the battle for Europe’s biggest pay-TV group.

The world’s biggest entertainment company, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said on Tuesday it proposed to offer £12.50 per share, significantly higher than the £10.75 Fox had agreed to pay for the British company.

The offer pits Comcast’s Brian L Roberts against Mr Murdoch, the 86-year-old tycoon who helped to launch Sky and pioneer pay-TV in Britain. Disney’s Bob Iger is also a long-time rival after Comcast tried and failed to buy Disney for $54bn in 2004.

Disney had agreed to subsequently buy Sky from Fox along with other assets in a separate deal worth $52bn.

Media owners have been forced to embark on a wave of dealmaking and hunt for growth after the success of online groups such as Netflix and Amazon.com prompted customers to start ditching their subscriptions.

Comcast bid $60bn last year to clinch a deal with Mr Murdoch’s Fox before losing out to Disney.

Shares in Sky soared 21pc to £13.34, indicating that investors expect a bidding war for a company that provides sports programming, films and broadband to 23 million homes in Ireland, Britain, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Comcast said on Tuesday that it will ask regulators in Brussels to look at its proposed $31bn offer for Sky after it made an approach to the British company, a spokesman for the company said on Tuesday.

The US cable group said the move, which did not constitute a firm offer, was designed to start the regulatory process because it sees a narrow window in which it can secure a takeover ahead of the Fox deal. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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