Comcast outbids Fox to buy Sky for £30.45bn

BRITAIN-US-TAKEOVER-SKY-COMCAST

When Sky clinched the rights to show a package of Premier League football matches in February for a price well below expectations, it helped...

U.S. cable giant Comcast outbid Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in a blind auction for the European TV operator Sky on Saturday that all but settled a titanic battle between the two media empires.

Philadelphia-based Comcast is one of the largest cable television providers in the US.

Comcast's final offer values Sky at around 29.7 billion pounds (about $39 billion).

"Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand and accomplished management team", he said in a statement.

But Comcast's chief executive Briant Roberts quickly hailed the outcome as "a great day" for his company.

'This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.

Comcast has won the long-running battle for control of Sky after beating Fox with a £30 billion bid for the broadcaster. 21st Century Fox already owns 39% of the company. Fox, with Disney's approval, lodged a bid of £15.67 per share.

Fox will now concede defeat, a source told Reuters.

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These offers must now be made official by both companies before the Sky board can make a recomendation. A victory over Fox, however, won't be sealed unless Sky investors tender their shares by an 11 October deadline.

But Sky shareholders still have the option of backing the Disney-Fox offer.

In July, Fox raised its offer to £24.5bn, but this was trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast.

His younger son James was pivotal in building Sky into Europe's leading pay-TV operator as its former chief executive and current chairman.

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

One banker involved in the auction said: "Did Comcast pay a lot more than they needed to?" It now must decide whether to sell its stake or remain a minority shareholder. Fox founder Rupert Murdoch's last bid sank amid a 2011 phone-hacking scandal, in which journalists working for Murdoch newspapers were accused of gaining illegal access to the voicemail messages of crime victims, celebrities and members of the royal family.

The process has also been beset by regulatory issues amid concerns over media plurality and the degree of Mr Murdoch's influence over the United Kingdom media landscape.

Fox made a string of concessions to assuage those worries and land a company that serves 23 million households in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. "Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase".

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