Comcast's Bid to Spoil the Disney-Fox Party

Comcast's Bid to Spoil the Disney-Fox Party

Comcast's Bid to Spoil the Disney-Fox Party

The move appears not only opportunistic but aimed at disrupting the European expansion of arch-rival Disney, which is now looking to take over Fox. Disney CEO Bob Iger called Sky a "crown jewel" among Fox assets in a December interview with Bloomberg TV.

USA cable giant Comcast has offered to buy Sky for $31 billion in a surprise move, posing another hurdle to tycoon Rupert Murdoch's attempts to buy the broadcaster.

"We think Sky is an outstanding company", said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. It also indicated that if the deal goes through it would, operationally, keep many things the same at Sky.

"Our strong market positions are complimentary with Sky's leadership in Europe enhancing our preeminent position in the US", Comcast's Roberts said.

Sky also provides the telecom services - like internet connections - needed to view its content.

That is substantially more than the £10.75 per share or £11.4 billion that Fox has offered for the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own.

21st Century Fox, which owns 40% of Sky, has been trying to buy the remaining stake since the end of 2016 but has faced repeated regulatory hurdles. If the Disney-21st Century Fox deal is eventually completed, Fox Broadcasting and the FS1/FS2 cable channels will not be included in the deal.

Brunswick Group's London office (Jonathan Glass and Andrew Porter) and NY outpost (Justin Dini and Laurie Hays) handle investor outreach for 21 Century Fox. In reaction to that, Fox has in recent weeks offered new concessions, including an extended commitment to United Kingdom news channel Sky News, to seal regulatory approval of the deal.

Comcast reckons its expertise funneling television shows, sports and movies directly to homes makes it a better owner for Sky.

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Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was offering £12.50 per share, significantly more than the £10.75 per share agreed by Fox.

"The good is that Comcast would get additional distribution for NBCU content in Europe, and some European content to distribute in the U.S.", Moffett added. Sky's shares jumped more than 20 percent, closing at 13.31 pounds, indicating that investors expect a bidding war.

But regulators are holding up the bid and Sky shareholders could be tempted by a higher offer.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday's announcement is not the first time this year Comcast has made an aggressive move related to Fox.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, noted that Sky's value increased after it secured English Premiership football rights at a competitive price at an auction two weeks ago.

Advising the bidder, the London-based Freshfields team is being led by M&A partners Julian Long and Alison Smith, City competition partners John Davies and Michelle Davis and London employment partner Alice Greenwell.

Roberts said that the deal would allow it to "accelerate" its strategy of producing local content around the world.

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