Wednesday 12 December 2018

Comcast chief will play the Murdoch card in bid to wreck Fox's Sky takeover bid

Game of Thrones is one of the flagship shows available on Sky. Photo: HBO
Game of Thrones is one of the flagship shows available on Sky. Photo: HBO

Not being Rupert Murdoch is set to be a key element of the case made by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts as he bids to buy pay-TV giant Sky.

Comcast is the largest US cable TV company and has worked to cultivate a nice-guy corporate image, while the reputation of Rupert Murdoch and his 21st Century Fox business have been damaged by a British phone-hacking scandal and allegations of sexual harassment in the US. Those contrasting images may play a significant role for regulators after Comcast's surprise £22.1bn (€24.86bn) offer for Sky on Tuesday, topping Fox's previous bid.

Murdoch planned to have Fox buy the 61pc of Sky it doesn't already own and sell it, along with the bulk of Fox's film and TV assets, to Walt Disney.

His plans are in jeopardy now.

"It's not so much that Comcast is a paragon of virtue," said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson.

"It's simply that they're not Rupert Murdoch."

The fight over Sky and its 22.9 million customers is the latest battle between Roberts and Murdoch.

In 2003, Murdoch acquired a stake in DirecTV, a competitor to Comcast, and then sold it four years later. Murdoch has a reputation as a swashbuckling dealmaker.

Roberts, like his late father, Ralph Roberts, has seldom been involved in controversy, though he has a reputation as a cut-throat competitor who catches rivals off guard.


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