Comcast decisively outbids Fox in Sky auction

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Highest bidder: Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts

The two suitors went through an auction process today under rules set by the UK Takeover Panel to resolve the contest and flush out final bids.

Highest bidder: Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian RobertsThe result was that Comcast has offered £17.28 per share and Fox £15.67, upping their previous offers from £14.75 and £14 respectively.

Shareholders can accept either of the two bids, which are both in cash, and will have more information to act upon this week, as the two parties are obliged to publish formal offer documents on or before Thursday 27 September.

In Sky, the winner is acquiring a business that serves 23 million customers in seven European countries and generated revenue of £13.6bn in the year to 30 June. Set up as a satellite TV broadcaster in 1989, it has diversified into broadband, streaming, news provision and original content.

Sky is also a big player in the UK advertising sales market, handling not just its own inventory but that on channels belonging to Viacom, including Channel 5, and Discovery. It generated ad revenues of £540m in the UK and Ireland in the year to 30 June, and a further £377m in Italy, Germany and Austria.

Comcast’s final bid represents a premium of 65% to the £10.75 per share level at which Sky’s board agreed back in December 2016 to recommend an offer by 21st Century Fox to buy the 61% of the company it does not already own.

Regulatory concerns delayed the deal, which remained uncomsummated when Fox chief Rupert Murdoch agreed the $66bn sale of Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney in December 2017 and when Comcast gatecrashed with a £12.50 per share offer for Sky in April this year.

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