Comcast Outbids Fox for Sky

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USA broadcaster Comcast has put forward a proposal to buy Sky, raising the prospect of a bidding war for the European TV provider with 21st Century Fox.

The company is prepared to co-own Sky with either Fox or Disney, as long as Comcast held a majority stake, but would prefer a complete purchase.

After having an offer accepted by Sky back in 2016, the United Kingdom regulators are still unhappy with media mogul Murdoch's potential influence on the UK's political agenda and public opinion if he were to become the sole owner of the United Kingdom media business. Not so pleased is Rupert Murdoch (below), whose Fox already owns 39 per cent of Sky and is trying to buy the rest for the third time.

Brian Roberts, chief executive of Comcast, said: "We think that Sky would be very valuable to us as we look to expand our presence internationally".

He also described Sky as an "outstanding company" and said he was "confident" Comcast's offer would be approved by regulators.

In an effort to win the regulator over, 21st Century Fox said it would keep Sky News running for at least 10 years, with a fully independent board for the channel. We strongly expect to see a bidding war for Sky.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told the Associated Press that Sky's value increased after it secured English Premier League soccer rights in Europe at a competitive price at an auction two weeks ago. It also owns broadcaster NBC and Universal Pictures.

News Corp made an £8bn takeover bid for Sky back in 2010, which was then retracted in 2011 while the phone-hacking trial was conducted.

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Rupert Murdoch's long-standing ambition to take full control of Sky is facing a fresh complication from an unexpected quarter after USA cable giant Comcast tabled a rival $31bn bid for the pan-European broadcaster, significantly higher than 21st Century Fox's earlier $25.8bn submission.

The bid, standing at £12.50 (USD$17.41), equates to a 16% premium compared to the existing offer made by Fox for Sky. "Comcast therefore does not believe that this Superior Cash Proposal should create any media plurality concerns in the U.K.", Roberts added. Which presumably means that Sky News will survive under Comcast.

Neither Fox nor Disney had responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. On a trip to the United Kingdom in November with Dave Watson, head of Comcast Cable, Roberts suggested jumping in a taxi and going to a mall to get an in-store demo of Sky's products.

He said Comcast plans to use Sky as a "platform for growth in Europe".

Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson Research, a top analyst, had a mixed recation to Comcast's bid for Sky. It is likely, for example, to force Fox to offer a higher price for Sky, which would cause Disney to review its own bid for Fox.

The UK government may also be looking for a way to defuse the political risks from the Fox bid, they added.

U.S. media giant Comcast has made a takeover approach for broadcaster Sky, in a deal thought to be worth more than €25bn.

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