Comcast challenges Rubert Murdoch with rival bid for UK-based Sky

26 April, 2018, 12:46 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • A View Of The Comcast Center

Comcast's bid for Sky is only the latest setback for the 87-year-old Murdoch, who has had his eye on a full takeover of the pay-TV provider for ages.

Sky withdrew its recommendation for the £11.7 billion Fox deal following Comcast's offer but stressed that both bids are "subject to pre-conditions and neither offer is now capable of being put to shareholders".

Comcast has formalized its bid for European broadcaster Sky, a move that sets up a battle royale with rival United States powerhouse 21st Century Fox.

Sky responded by saying it was withdrawing its recommendation of the Fox deal.

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Sky shareholders would receive £12.50 in cash for each share.

Comcast formalized its offer through what is known as a Rule 2.7 announcement in which it said it was committed to preserving Sky's editorial independence and would not acquire a majority interest in any United Kingdom newspaper for five years "to ensure media plurality is sustained".

For its part, 21st Century Fox also issued a statement regarding the announcement on Wednesday, in which it maintained that the company is "committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced on 15th December 2016 and is now considering its options".

Fox has responded by promising to ring-fence Sky News and has guaranteed to fund it for up to 15 years.

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The CMA has raised a host of concerns over the Fox acquisition, while since then, Disney has also agreed to snap up a raft of Fox assets including Sky's 39% stake. In February, Comcast floated a preliminary offer at the same price.

They include pledges to establish an independent board for Sky News and to invest in the channel, for 10 years, at least as much as the channel's budget was in 2016-17.

But British regulators aren't so keen on allowing Murdoch to buy the company, which would give him too much control of the United Kingdom media and is therefore "not in the public interest", the Competition and Markets Authority said earlier this year.

Comcast said it anticipates realizing about $500 million in operating synergies, with about $300 million on the expense side and $200 million in revenue.

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Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, said: "With its 23 million retail customers, leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany, and its history of strong financial performance, we see significant opportunities for growth by combining our businesses". "We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast". Comcast's offer comes just days before the May 1 deadline for the Competition and Markets Authority to give its final advice about the Fox bid to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock. Generously add those to consensus estimates for Sky's operating profit in 2020, tax the lot at 18 percent, and the return on invested capital is nearly 7 percent.

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