Sky has recommended that its shareholders accept Comcast’s blockbuster $39 billion bid for the company, an offer hailed by chief executive Jeremy Darroch as “the beginning of the next exciting chapter for Sky.”
Comcast won a three-round auction for Sky on Saturday, with a £17.28-per-share deal that almost certainly puts enough distance between it and rival bidder 21st Century Fox to win the battle for control of the European pay-TV heavyweight. Fox, with Disney’s approval, lodged a bid of £15.67 per share.
Had the bid been close, there was speculation that Sky might have recommended the Fox offer to shareholders. But that was not the case, and Sky’s independent committee, which includes Darroch and other senior executives, has backed the Comcast offer.
“As the price of the final Comcast offer is materially superior, it is in the best interests of all Sky shareholders to accept the Comcast offer,” the board said in a statement Saturday night. “Accordingly, the independent committee unanimously recommends that Sky shareholders accept the Comcast offer, and in order to ensure the successful closing of the Comcast offer, urges shareholders to accept immediately.”
Darroch, who is a well-regarded CEO, said that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and his team “have built a great business and we are looking forward to bringing our two companies together for the benefit of our customers and colleagues. As part of a broader Comcast, we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe’s leading direct to consumer media company.
“Today’s outcome is down to the hard work of tens of thousands of people who have built and developed this business together over the last 30 years. Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase.”
Darroch’s own future as boss of Sky is now unclear. He has led the business through a sustained period of growth, but may make way when Comcast takes control.
For the U.S. cable giant, which entered the fray for Sky last February, adding the pay-TV service gives it a major new source of income, boosting its international revenues from 9% of the company’s overall takings to 25%.
“This is a great day for Comcast,” Roberts said. “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.
“We couldn’t be more excited by the opportunities in front of us. We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018.”