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Comcast: BSkyB bid report ‘rubbish’

Cable giant calls New York Times report 'total speculation'

Comcast Friday called a report that it’s eyeing BSkyB “rubbish.”

A report in the New York Times said the media giant may be mulling a possible acquisition of the U.K. satcaster although it hasn’t approached either BSkyB or its main shareholder News Corp.

“This is complete rubbish. It is total speculation and inaccurate,” said a company spokeswoman.

Comcast and other media companies routinely consider all potential deals in the space and the Times story even suggests that investment bankers may be the ones drumming up interest in this one. The idea has some resonance now, however, because News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey has been adamant about wanting to unload assets that News Corp. doesn’t fully control and speculation could put BSkyB in play.

A News Corp. rep declined to comment.

News owns 39% of BSkyB and was forced by the U.K. hacking scandal last summer to scrap plans to buy the rest of it. There’s a tiny possibility the U.K. government could force News Corp. to sell its existing stake after a politically charged report last month called chairman Rupert Murdoch unfit for the stewardship of a major media company given all the dirt that’s come out about hacking and police and government corruption.

Wall Streeters ask Carey about BSkyB all the time. Most recently, he said News Corp. will continue as a shareholder. Even though public opinion in Britain makes a new bid impossible, News Corp. is too keen on the business to exit completely. “There isn’t a short-term answer. We like that business a lot. We’ll be a shareholder as we’ve been for now. Down the road will see what comes,” he said.

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