Comcast, the US TV and film giant which owns NBC, Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, has tabled a formal offer for Sky, pitching it into a battle against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox for control of the UK’s biggest pay TV operator.
Fox’s £18bn bid to buy Sky is currently being scrutinised by the UK’s competition regulators who’ve made a preliminary ruling that the deal would not be in the public interest due to Mr Murdoch’s control of News UK.
Options have been tabled which would guarantee the editorial integrity of Sky News in a bid to allow the take-over to proceed.
In February Comcast indicated it was minded to table its own offer and today confirmed it was formally entering the bidding with an offer worth £12.50 per share, which it says “represents a 16% increase in value over the existing 21st Century Fox offer for Sky.”
“We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation.
“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, “Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe. We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s UK headquarters.
“Adding Sky to the Comcast family of businesses will increase our international revenues from 9% to 25% of Company revenues.”
In a statement, the Independent Committee of Sky said it welcomed Comcast’s announcement and said as a result “of this higher cash offer, the Independent Committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by [21st Century Fox] on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the Co-operation Agreement entered into with 21CF on the same date.”