×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Decides to Ditch Its Stake in Sky for $15 Billion

21st Century Fox will offload its longtime 39% stake in Sky to Comcast for more than $15 billion, after the U.S. cable giant lodged the highest bid in a weekend auction of the European pay-TV heavyweight.

Fox said Wednesday it would accept the £17.28-per-share offer Comcast made in the auction, which clears the way for Comcast to take full control of Sky.

The deal values Fox’s stake at £11.6 billion ($15 billion). The sale will mark the end of an era for Sky and its association with Rupert Murdoch, who is set to become a major shareholder in Disney instead by virtue of a separate deal for Fox assets. Murdoch had long wanted to own Sky and came close to buying out the company, then known as BSkyB, in 2011, before the phone-hacking scandal in Britain sank that effort.

“In light of the premium Comcast has agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21CF’s existing 39% holding in Sky to Comcast,” Fox said in a statement. “We congratulate Comcast on their pending acquisition. We are proud of the role our company has played in building Sky, and of the outstanding value we have delivered for shareholders of 21CF and Sky, and customers across Europe.”

Fox added that, when it launched Sky in 1989, “it was four channels produced from a prefab structure in an industrial park on the fringes of West London….We bet – and almost lost – the farm on launching a business that many didn’t think was such a good idea. Today, Sky is Europe’s leading entertainment company and a world-class example of a customer-driven enterprise.”

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch paid tribute to Fox and Rupert Murdoch. “Nearly 30 years ago, Rupert Murdoch took a risk to launch Sky and in the process changed the way we watch television forever,” he said. “His vision and belief has enabled us to grow in to Europe’s leading direct to consumer media business and I would like to personally thank him, James [Murdoch] and 21CF for their consistent support as shareholders, board members and friends.

“On behalf of all our employees I would also like to thank James for his chairmanship as we have transformed Sky over the past decade. With 21CF announcing its intention to sell its shares to Comcast we close one chapter while simultaneously opening another. Our aim is to make the next 30 years as exciting for customers, colleagues and all our stakeholders.”

Disney, which has struck a deal to buy a raft of Fox assets including the stake in Sky, said it had given Fox its approval to sell. Disney had been expected to use its Sky holdings as leverage for some Comcast assets, such as Comcast’s stake in Hulu. But it is opting to cash out the shares instead – at a premium rate that it and Fox helped drive up by bidding against Comcast to buy Sky.

The sale of the shares, “coupled with the divestiture of the Fox Sports Regional Networks, will significantly reduce the amount of debt Disney will incur in acquiring 21st Century Fox, and enable Disney to maintain its strong balance sheet as it continues to invest in content creation for its direct-to-consumer platforms,” Disney said.

Sky is swapping one U.S. backer for another, albeit soon-to-be-owner Comcast looks set for full ownership of the 23-million subscriber platform. Comcast beat Fox in the battle for Sky with a significantly higher bid for the company in last weekend’s blind auction. It has proceeded to buy Sky stock on the open market. Sky shares were trading at £17.27 late Wednesday.

Analysts have already speculated that the deal will pave the way for content and tech partnerships between the various units of Sky and Comcast, which also owns NBCUniversal.

More TV

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content