It was announced this past Saturday (22 September) that US cable giant, Comcast has won an auction to acquire European broadcaster Sky, bidding $38.8bn (or $22.57/share) – above 21st Century Fox’s ([Fox] and its backer The Walt Disney Co.[Disney’s]) bid of $20.46/share. Comcast’s win paves the way for it to acquire Sky and its 23mn European subscribers and entertainment assets. Sky’s shareholders have until 11 October to approve the deal. Both companies were vying for 61% control of Sky (Fox already owns 39% of the business).
The Verge writes that Sky and its subscribers “are attractive assets to US media companies that want to expand their operations to Europe and bolster their defenses against an onslaught from Netflix and Amazon.” Sky also sells broadband and mobile phone services. Fox has been trying to take over the 61% of Sky it does not already own for years.
In a statement, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts called the auction results “a great day for Comcast” noting that “Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team. This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally,”. Meanwhile, CNN reports that, in a memo to staff, Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said that they are considering their next steps with regards to the 39% of Sky they still own and “will make a further announcement in due course,”.
With Disney set to take control of Fox, and assuming Sky shareholders vote for Comcast’s offer, Disney could potentially sell the remaining 39% stake in Sky to Comcast, giving the company full control.