Comcast Tops Fox’s Offer to Buy British Broadcaster Sky
Comcast has challenged 21st Century Fox’s bid to purchase Sky, announcing today its offer to purchase the British satellite broadcaster for $31 billion. Comcast intends to leverage Sky “as a platform for growth in Europe,” taking advantage of its strong presence in pay-TV markets in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
The deal offer is yet another roadblock for Fox, which previously agreed to buy out the two-thirds of Sky it does not already own. European regulators have shown resistance to Fox’s buy-out plans: in January, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ruled that Fox’s proposed acquisition is “likely to operate against the public interest” because if successful, would give the Murdoch family overwhelming influence over media in the U.K.
“We have provisionally found that if the Fox/Sky merger went ahead as proposed … it would result in the Murdoch family having too much control over news providers in the U.K., and too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda,” the CMA stated.
Sky’s shares have risen 21 percent on news of the bidding war, as Comcast’s proposal of $17.34 a share is much higher than Fox’s offer of $14.91 a share.
Ultimately, Fox intended to sell Sky, along with a slew of other media assets, to Disney for $52 billion. How Comcast’s offer will snarl these plans remains to be seen; most likely, though, it will force Fox to come back with a more lucrative offer.
According to Variety, Comcast Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Roberts told analysts this morning that he is confident Comcast’s offer will fare better with regulators. If Comcast successfully acquires Sky, it would nearly double its more than 29 million subscriber base with an additional 23 million customers in Europe.