Entertaiment

Sky Backs Comcast Deal, CEO Darroch Says ‘Momentum Will Only Increase’

Sky Backs Comcast Deal, CEO Darroch Says ‘Momentum Will Only Increase’

The company bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of the London-listed Sky, versus an offer of 15.67 pounds a share offer by Fox, the Takeover Panel said in a statement.

In July, Fox raised its offer to £24.5bn, but this was trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast. Mr Murdoch, at a December briefing about the Disney takeover, said that if "anything goes wrong [with the Sky takeover] the existing shares would go to Disney" and "it'll be up to them what to do".

If Comcast's bid is enough to clinch Sky, CEO Brian Roberts will emerge as a global TV power after conceding ownership of most of Fox's entertainment assets in a separate bidding war to his rival, Walt Disney's Bob Iger. Deep-pocketed firms like Netflix and Amazon have eye-popping budgets and are pouring money into media production and streaming rights.

"When you're competing against a 39 percent shareholder you've got to be quite aggressive", said a source close to Comcast.

Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, coveted Sky to expand its worldwide presence as growth slows in its core USA market.

Ben Barringer, equity analyst at Quilter Cheviot, said: 'We can see why Comcast is attracted to Sky.

Buying Sky allows Roberts to expand the content and distribution model he has embraced since buying NBCUniversal seven years ago. With the Sky takeover, Comcast will become the biggest pay TV provider in the world, with around 52 million customers after adding Sky's 23 million subscribers. It has been boosting its investment in original TV productions such as 1920s sex-and-crime saga "Babylon Berlin" and "Britannia", a period drama about the Roman conquest of Britain.

What sort of business is Comcast?

Buying Sky would mean Comcast generates a quarter of its sales outside of the USA, up from 9% now. It would also represent a victory in Comcast's chequered history of dealmaking. The loss of Sky partly stymies Iger's goal of establishing more direct ties to consumers and expanding his worldwide business. The first was thwarted in 2011 by a phone-tapping scandal at his United Kingdom newspaper business.

Comcast's repeated overtures forced Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger to spend almost $18 billion more than he initially planned, or $71.3 billion, to purchase the Fox assets.

Fox struck a philosophical tone in the wake of the auction Saturday, depicting its loss to Comcast as a victory of sorts. "Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase", he said.


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