Comcast's $39 Billion Bid Tops Fox in Sky Auction
Sky Plc shares jumped as much as 8.7 per cent in London after Comcast Corp.’s victorious US$39 billion offer in a bidding war for the British broadcaster.
Comcast trumped by 10 per cent a rival bid from 21st Century Fox Inc., backed by Walt Disney Co., in a Saturday auction overseen by U.K. regulators. That all but assures that investors in London-based Sky will tender their shares to the Philadelphia-based cable carrier.
Sky traded up 8.6 per cent at 17.22 pounds as of 8:18 a.m. in London, just shy of the Comcast bid of 17.28 pounds a share.
Comcast’s emergence as the winner helps put an end to months of uncertainty over the future ownership of Europe’s largest satellite carrier, which Rupert Murdoch founded in 1989. Sky shareholders have until Oct. 11 to accept, but its independent directors have already recommended the deal, the biggest British takeover so far this year. Fox is selling its 39 per cent stake to Disney as part of a US$71 billion deal struck last year.
“With the independent directors of Sky backing the deal and the premium to the share price close on Friday, it is almost inevitable that non-Fox shareholders will take the offer,” Ian Whittaker, an analyst at Liberum, said in a note to clients Monday.
Fox could decide to sell the stake to Comcast and cash in about 11.6 billion pounds (US$15.2 billion), a move that would help its rival rapidly reach its acceptance target. Fox is mulling tendering the stake if Disney supports the move, according to people familiar with the matter. The final bid from Comcast -- 17 per cent higher than the company’s offer for Sky going into the auction -- exceeded the 16.53 pound average estimate of a Bloomberg survey.
“We think Fox/Disney will sell its stake in the company -- it is a windfall for Fox and, for Disney, there is no direct competition in Europe between it and Comcast in the pay-TV arena,” Whittaker said.
Fox said it’s considering options regarding its 39 per cent and will make a further announcement “in due course.”