×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comcast Makes $31 Billion Takeover Offer for Sky

NBCUniversal parent company rivals Fox with bid for European satcaster

Comcast has made a £22 billion ($31 billion) offer for Sky, offering a 16% premium on the existing bid by 21st Century Fox for the European pay-TV giant. The surprise move comes as Fox’s year-old proposal to buy out Sky has become bogged down in regulatory review, although a final decision by British authorities could land within the next few months.

“We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the U.K., Italy and Germany,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp. “Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming. It has great people and a very strong and capable management team.”

Roberts added that, with Sky in the stable, international revenues would account for 25% of Comcast’s overall takings, up from the current 9%.

Fox and Sky both issued terse statements in response to Comcast’s new overture. “Since no firm offer has been made at this point, shareholders are advised to take no action,” Sky said, adding that “a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.” Fox said merely that it remained “committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced on 15th December 2016.”

Comcast is well-versed in media mega-mergers, having acquired NBCUniversal in 2011, which created a cable and content giant. Rumors in the U.S. had suggested that Comcast would make a renewed bid for 21st Century Fox, but now it has set itself up in competition to Fox with its rival offer for Sky. And Fox itself is selling off its entertainment assets to Disney in another huge transaction that’s part of the wave of consolidation sweeping through the media and entertainment spheres.

Initial analyst reaction was that Comcast’s bid for Sky – a non-binding offer of £12.50 per share – was likely to succeed. “We expect this deal to go through as we do not think Fox (or Disney, who are acquiring the Sky assets as part of their purchase of various Fox assets) will want to get into a bidding war, especially given the complications surrounding Sky News,” said Liberum’s Ian Whittaker.

Fox already owns 39% of satcaster Sky and is seeking to buy out the remaining 61%. But it has struggled to obtain regulatory approval for its $15 billion bid, with the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority warning that the deal would concentrate too much of Britain’s media assets in the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his family. As late as last week Fox offered concessions to try to ease approval of the takeover, including “firewall” measures to help ensure the editorial independence of Sky News and insulate it from the Murdochs’ influence.

Sky is Europe’s largest pay-TV operator, with substantial bases in the U.K., Germany, and Italy, as well as a low-cost streaming service in Spain. It has been making a huge investment in original content to sit alongside the sports rights, particularly top-level soccer, that have always been a staple of the service.

“Pay-TV remains a very attractive product for the family. Sky is a family business,” Alice Enders of Enders Analysis told the BBC. “Despite these over-the-top services – Netflix, Amazon and so on – there is still a market for a premium pay-TV product, bearing in mind that Sky also has the very valuable football rights that a lot of fans want to see.”

In the U.K., Sky’s base is a sprawling campus in west London. NBCUniversal has a 1,300-employee central London headquarter for its international business. Roberts said both would continue to operate if Comcast gained ownership of Sky.

Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe,” Roberts said. “We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s U.K. headquarters.”

More Biz

  • Fox Layoffs

    Disney-21st Fox Layoffs: TV Divisions Brace for Deep Cuts

    A second day of layoffs has begun on the Fox lot in the wake of Disney completing its acquisition of 21st Century Fox on Wednesday. Longtime 20th Century Fox Television Distribution president Mark Kaner is among the senior executives who were formally notified with severance details on Friday morning. 21st Century Fox’s international TV sales [...]

  • anthony pellicano

    Hollywood Fixer Anthony Pellicano Released From Federal Prison

    Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood private eye whose wiretapping case riveted the industry a decade ago, was released from a federal prison on Friday, a prison spokeswoman confirmed. Pellicano was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years, following his conviction on 78 charges of wiretapping, racketeering, conspiracy and wire fraud. He had been in custody since 2003, [...]

  • This image taken from the Twitter

    HBO’s Reaction to Trump’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Campaign

    Everyone wants a piece of the “Game of Thrones” lemon cake. From Bud Light to Red Bull the world of Westeros is open to a lot of brand partnerships, unless you’re using that iconic typeface to push a political agenda. In November of 2018 President Donald Trump unveiled a “Thrones” inspired poster with the words [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    'Leaving Neverland' Lawsuit Proves to Be a Judicial Hot Potato

    The Michael Jackson estate sued HBO last month for airing the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses the late King of Pop of serial child sexual abuse. Since then, the case has had a difficult time finding a judge to handle it. Three federal judges have recused themselves in the last week, citing potential financial conflicts [...]

  • Members of the public mourn at

    Guy Oseary’s New Zealand Fundraiser Nears $150,000, Continues Raising Money

    In the wake of the horrific shootings at New Zealand mosques last week that killed some 49 people, Maverick chief Guy Oseary launched a GoFundMe campaign to “support those affected by this tragedy at this very difficult time,” and began it with an $18,000 donation. Boosted by donations from many celebrities — including Amy Schumer, [...]

  • Cesar Sayoc Headshot

    Florida Man Pleads Guilty in CNN Pipe Bomb Case

    A Florida man pleaded guilty Thursday to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent critics of President Donald Trump. Cesar Sayoc appeared in federal court in New York, where he pleaded to 65 counts stemming from the mailing of 16 devices. He faces life in prison, plus 120 months, at his sentencing on Sept. 12. [...]

  • Tencent Profits Hit $1 Billion Per

    Tencent Profits Hit $1 Billion per Month as Company Loses Fizz

    Growing regulatory encroachments into its games business, a smaller than expected spin-off for its music division, and a fourth quarter profits drop, pointed to a troubling year for Chinese tech giant Tencent. Its financial results for the full 2018 period, while delivering profits of nearly $1 billion a month, appeared to bear out that thesis. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content