Business Standard

Comcast challenges Murdoch with 22bn bid for Sky


AFP London
US cable giant Comcast today said it has offered more than 22 billion ($31 billion) to buy pan-European satellite TV group Sky.

Comcast is offering more per share compared with a bid from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox for the 61 per cent of Sky it does not yet own, according to details of the surprise announcement.

"The superior cash proposal implies a value of approximately 22.1 billion for the fully diluted ordinary share capital of Sky," Comcast said in a statement.

Comcast chief executive and chairman Brian L Roberts added: "We would like to own the whole of Sky and we will be looking to acquire over 50 per cent of the Sky shares.

"We are confident that we will be able to receive the necessary regulatory approvals," Roberts said.

The twist comes after Britain's competition regulator provisionally ruled that Fox's offer was "not in the public interest".

21st Century Fox bid 11.4 billion two years ago for the nearly two-thirds of Sky it does not own -- but a full-takeover had been held up by UK government concerns.

In an effort to get its offer over the line, Fox earlier this month vowed to preserve the editorial independence of Sky News.

That came after Britain's top competition regulator ruled that the Sky takeover was not in the public interest because of media plurality concerns.

Adding to the uncertainty about Sky's future ownership, Disney announced in December a $52.4-billion deal to buy 21st Century Fox.

And Comcast, which in December dropped an attempt to acquire 21st Century Fox, is considering relaunching that bid, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

Speaking of Sky today, Comcast CEO Roberts said: "We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers, leading positions in the UK, Italy and Germany, and is a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver its customers a great experience."

And in a thumbs up to Britain amid Brexit uncertainty, he added: "The UK is and will remain a great place to do business. We already have a strong presence in London and Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe.

"We intend to maintain and enhance Sky's business," Roberts said.

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First Published: Feb 27 2018 | 2:20 PM IST

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