Sky battle escalates as Comcast raises offer to £26bn

Devin Lawrence
July 13, 2018

Reported by Deadline, Comcast put forth a new bit of $34 billion for Sky just hours after 21st Century Fox raised its own bid to $32.5.

Disney and Comcast are also locked in a separate $70 billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox's assets, which include the 39% stake of Sky it already owns and the rest of the company if it emerges triumphant in Britain.

U.S. media giant Comcast threw its hat into the ring in February with a £22bn offer for Sky, trumping an offer from Fox, and starting a bidding war.

Martin Gilbert, deputy chairman of Sky, said that Comcast's offer represent an "attractive premium to the current alternative offer".

Comcast may instead try to get the Sky network, which Fox now owns 39% of the company.

The then Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock, said last month there would be no public interest concerns with a Comcast takeover of Sky.

The quick counteroffer suggests that the war to seize control of Britain's biggest pay-TV company is heating up, since the previous bid was $31 billion from Comcast in April.

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Neither Comcast nor Sky immediately responded to requests for comment.

Sky gives Fox and Comcast a rare opportunity to diversify out of the USA and reach more consumers directly.

"American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher", said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. Comcast now has a 60-day window before Sky shareholders can vote to approve the deal.

Sky's independent directors accepted the latest Fox offer.

Should a deal for Fox's assets - including the 39% share of Sky - close before control of the satcaster is resolved, the winning bidder would be required to make an offer for the remaining 61% of Sky, according to United Kingdom takeover rules.

"There are enough sub-plots in the race to acquire Sky to commission a primetime drama", Salmon said.

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