Published: Fri, March 02, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Comcast challenges 21st Century Fox with £22.1bn Sky interest

Comcast challenges 21st Century Fox with £22.1bn Sky interest

"So get ready for multiple bids, which will make Sky shareholders very happy". The fine print of the Disney deal stipulates that Disney must approve of any sale of Sky shares.

Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast.

In a statement, Comcast's Roberts said his company was "confident that we will be able to receive the necessary regulatory approvals". He added: "We would like to own the whole of Sky and we will be looking to acquire over 50% of the Sky shares".

"We respect that maybe they don't want to sell, but that will be something discussed further down the line". Sky's stock had already been trading above Fox's offer price amid expectation Fox would need to raise its bid. Comcast still covets Fox's assets, Reuters reported earlier this month. The authority said the only way the deal could go ahead would be if there could be some way of stopping Murdoch-who also owns the U.K.'s biggest newspaper, The Sun-from influencing Sky's news output. It's now waiting publication of a final report that will spell out regulators' recommended remedies, such as a separate editorial board for Sky News. He said Sky's chief executive Jeremy Darroch had shown him an early preview of the Sky Q TV platform box, and that several people had worked as executives for both Comcast and Sky.

Then he said he talked to a Sky salesperson at a Westfield mall in London, and came away impressed with Sky's offerings.

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch faces a multi-billion dollar battle in his quest to buy Sky television after America's largest cable company Comcast entered the bidding in a move likely to diffuse a potentially hazardous political decision being faced by the British government.

Another option for Fox: Hold on to its 39% stake, making it a partner with Comcast in Sky, at least until Disney completes its Fox takeover.

The offer also has Roberts against Bob Iger at Disney, who is a longtime rival following Comcast's bid to acquire Disney in 2004 at a price of $54 billion.

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Comcast said it had not yet engaged with Sky over the proposal and almost 90 minutes after the statement came out, Sky was yet to respond.

Comcast has made a higher offer for Sky than the one that has already been accepted from 21 Century Fox.

Considering that Fox's takeover of Sky has been challenged by the Competition and Markets Authority under concerns of media plurality - the Murdoch family already owns a massive proportion of news outlets in the United Kingdom - a competitor's bid from Comcast might actually be well-received.

But it warned that, in terms of the need to maintain plurality in the United Kingdom media, the takeover could potentially act against the public interest.

Murdoch's news outlets are watched, read or heard by almost a third of Britons and have a combined share of public news consumption that is significantly greater than all other news providers, except the BBC and commercial TV news provider ITN. In December, hedge fund manager Crispin Odey argued that Sky was being sold too cheaply.

"When a set of assets like 21st Century Fox's becomes available, it's our responsibility to evaluate if there's a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders", Comcast said at the time.

He added: "We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal global operations, and we intend to maintain Sky's United Kingdom headquarters".

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