Comcast parries Rupert Murdoch's Sky bid with £26bn offer

12 July, 2018, 04:40 | Author: Donna Miller
  • Comcast

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox said it had agreed to buy Britain's Sky in a deal valuing the pay-TV group at $32.5 billion, trumping a rival offer from U.S. group Comcast.

The Associated Press reported that Fox, which already has a 39 percent stake in Sky, raised its offer to 14 pounds per share ($18.58), more than Comcast's latest offer but not equivalent to the value Sky was trading at on Wednesday.

As Fox and Comcast duke it out over Sky, Comcast could be readying a new bid for Fox's entertainment assets. Sky's shares closed at £15.01 on Tuesday, suggesting shareholders think the battle is not over.

Brian Roberts, chief executive of Comcast, said: "We have long admired Sky, which we believe is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast".

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Its offer represents an 82 percent premium to Sky's shares in 2016 before the takeover drama started, and a multiple of 21 times 2017 earnings per share. According to some shareholders, that has set an implied higher floor for Sky's shares. Wright's predecessor had previously indicated the deal could go through if Sky was ultimately sold to a third party, like Disney. Is this the deal that inspires more or scares off others?

"As the founding shareholder of Sky, we have remained deeply committed to bringing these two organizations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future", Fox said in a statement.

One hedge fund manager with a stake in Sky welcomed that pledge as a sign that Disney backed Fox in the battle.

The move by the NBC owner came less than 24 hours after 21st Century Fox increased its offer to £24.5bn. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer. It's also thought that, despite welcoming a new counteroffer from Comcast, Rupert Murdoch is in favor of Disney over Comcast due to antitrust concerns, even after the successful AT&T and Time Warner merger. The opposition has not completely subsided despite the plan to spin off Sky News.

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