Comcast challenges Murdoch with US$31B bid for Sky

Walt Disney Co (DIS) Could Find Itself In Bidding War For Fox

NBC and Universal Pictures owner Comcast has made a £22.1 billion takeover approach for Sky in an attempt to trump 21st Century Fox's efforts to seize full control of the United Kingdom broadcaster.

"We think that Sky would be very valuable to us as we look to expand our presence internationally".

While Fox was dealing with the regulatory hurdles for the Sky deal, it agreed to sell a major chunk of its operations to Disney, including its current 39 percent stake in Sky. "Sky shares are now trading 2% above the Comcast offer price, so the market clearly smells the scent of some more action before this saga draws to a close".

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox had already agreed an £18.5bn deal to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

21st Century Fox proposed Sky takeover faces a setback.

Disney has announced its intentions to buy Fox's entertainment assets, including Sky, but that also has to be approved in both the US and Europe. It also said that it would continue "investment in employees' professional development across the UK" and that it was committed to Sky's local community programmes to inspire more people to get involved in sports.

The offer for Sky from 21 Century Fox was made in December 2016, but has been held up by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Unlike the offer from 21st Century Fox, Comcast does not predict any issues with media plurality.

"The notion that Comcast might make a topping bid for Fox has weighed heavily on Comcast shares, which have entirely missed the market rebound in the days since their continued interest was first reported".

"It's obviously a huge gauntlet that's been laid down to the Murdochs in relation to their pre-existing offer", said Alice Enders, head of research at Enders Analysis.

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When it comes to content, Sky's soccer offerings are especially attractive. "We're able to sit down with the NBC creatives and Sky's creative team and there will be synergistic opportunities to work together on show concepts, film distribution and technology".

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said he's prepared for the Murdochs to spurn Comcast's advance.

How will regulators view the Comcast bid?

Comcast's chief executive says he is confident the firm will get the necessary regulatory approvals.

Roberts also said Comcast was prepared to co-own Sky with Disney if they Comcast had the majority stake, though Comcast prefers to own the broadcaster outright.

Comcast's appearance in the already complex Sky drama could prompt Fox to make a higher offer or Disney to make its own direct bid for Sky.

Comcast was reportedly considering outbidding Disney for the Fox assets, according to sources familiar with the matter, but has now shifted its focus to Sky. Will Disney be content with acquiring Fox without Sky?

He added that Comcast would commit to keeping Sky News as a going concern.

"We were really terribly impressed", Roberts said.

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