Comcast Challenges Murdoch with Rival Bid for Broadcaster Sky

25 April, 2018, 16:08 | Author: Natasha Holloway
  • A View Of The Comcast Center

Comcast's offer is a 16% premium to 21st Century Fox's most recent bid.

Sky's shares raced 4% higher as the move by Comcast sets the stage for a possible bidding war for Sky.

Following the formal bid from Comcast, independent directors at Sky said they were withdrawing their recommendation that shareholders accept the competing offer from Fox.

The group added that it plans to agree a raft of legally-binding commitments over Sky and its investment in the United Kingdom, in particular for Sky News, while it also said it would commit to keeping the group's Osterley headquarters for at least five years.

In January, a United Kingdom regulator advised that the government should block the Fox bid to buy the remaining 61% of Sky because it would give one family - the Murdochs - too much control over media in Britain. Sky News is understood to lose around £40m per year.

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The proposed combination has been further complicated by Fox's agreement to sell many of its TV and film assets to Disney, including its 39 percent stake in Sky.

Comcast said the acquisition will enhance its free cash flow per share in the first year, excluding one-time transaction-related expenses and, within a reasonable period of time, the company expects that the return on invested capital of the acquisition will exceed the weighted average cost of capital. The company now anticipates that the acquisition will complete before the end of 2018.

"We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast", Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast, said in a statement. In February, Comcast floated a preliminary offer at the same price. It also proposed to protect media plurality in the United Kingdom by giving a binding post-offer undertaking not to acquire any majority interest in any British newspapers for five years.

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox said it was "considering its options", but "remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky". "Sky will be our platform for growth across Europe".

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