Comcast Extends Deadline for Shareholder Vote on Sky Bid

Comcast has extended its deadline for Sky shareholders to vote on Comcast’s currently leading bid for the European pay-TV giant. Sky acknowledged the deadline change Thursday in a statement, which informed shareholders: “The recommended Comcast offer will remain open for acceptance until 1 p.m. (London time) [5 a.m. PT] on 12 September 2018, unless extended further.”

The extension of the deadline, which had originally been set for noon Wednesday, came after Comcast revealed it had received approval of its current £14.75 per-share offer from only a fraction of Sky shareholders. The U.S. cable giant said valid acceptances had been received for about 3.84 million of Sky’s shares – representing just 0.21% of the share capital – by the original Wednesday deadline.

Comcast’s bid to buy the 61% of Sky not owned by 21st Century Fox, which is mounting a rival takeover bid, values Sky at $34 billion. Fox’s current bid stands at £14 per share. At present, the recommendation of Sky’s independent directors is to accept Comcast’s bid. Fox has until Sept. 22 to make a new counteroffer.

The deadline extension is the latest development in the ongoing battle between Comcast and Fox to acquire Sky. On Aug. 16, the panel governing takeovers in the U.K. upheld its previous ruling on the minimum price that Disney would be obliged to offer for Sky if Disney completes its purchase of Fox assets before a takeover of Sky has happened.

The decision by the independent Takeover Appeal Board reaffirmed Disney’s floor price of £14 per share – the same as Fox’s current bid – despite appeals from “several interested parties” who presumably wanted a higher minimum in light of Comcast’s richer offer.

Sky reported bumper full-year results at the end of July, demonstrating why the European pay-TV leader has become such a prize for Comcast, Fox or Disney. The figures showed revenues up 5% year-on-year to £13.6 billion ($17.9 billion) and an EBITDA profit of £2.5 billion – up 9%. Sky now has 23 million subscribers across its European footprint, which includes Germany and Italy.

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