Comcast beats Fox in Sky auction with NZ$58 billion bid

Comcast beats Fox in Sky auction with NZ$58 billion bid

Darren Sullivan
September 23, 2018

Comcast won a three-round auction for Sky on Saturday, with a £17.28-per-share deal that nearly certainly puts enough distance between it and rival bidder 21st Century Fox to win the battle for control of the European pay-TV heavyweight.

Disney has previously said the Sky bid was "separate from, and not conditional on, Disney's acquisition of Fox".

The almost two-year battle for Sky has reshaped the global media-entertainment landscape and put Comcast in pole position to take on emerging online rivals.

Fox had always been trying to acquire the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own. Deep-pocketed firms like Netflix and Amazon have eye-popping budgets and are pouring money into media production and streaming rights.

"Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand and accomplished management team", Comcast boss Brian Roberts said in a statement. "We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018".

Acquiring Sky would also expand the content and distribution model that Roberts has embraced since buying NBCUniversal seven years ago.

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Sky is Europe's largest pay-television operator, with programming including English Premier League soccer and television series Game of Thrones. 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. Now, Disney will need to decide whether it will sell it's 39 per cent stake to Comcast, or if it will remain a minority partner, latimes.com reported.

In addition to its satellite TV service, Sky offers a video streaming option called Now TV, which has about 2 million subscribers. Comcast wants to grow its operations in Europe.

What does this mean for Sky customers? It would also represent a victory in Comcast's chequered history of deal making. The loss of Sky partly stymies Disney CEO Bob Iger's goal of establishing more direct ties to consumers and expanding his worldwide business. An earlier attempt was thwarted in 2011 by a phone-tapping scandal at his United Kingdom newspaper business.

Philadelphia-based Comcast won a 24-hour auction conducted on Saturday.

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Then in July, Disney muscled Comcast aside with a $71-billion deal for Fox that brought it franchises such as the X-Men and hit shows like The Simpsons. "Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase".