Despite the confusion and drama surrounding 21st Century Fox’s bid for Sky, its Chairman, Lachlan Murdoch (son of Rupert Murdoch) expects the deal to merge with Disney to go-ahead as they continue to work through the deal points. However, this may still not happen due to mounting rumours that Comcast are preparing a $60bn cash offer for all Fox’s assets and a separate bid to buy Sky. Given this speculation, Murdoch has said that the company is considering its options with an announcement to follow, as they need to consider their fiduciary duties towards their shareholders. This latest instalment means that Comcast and Disney could engage in a bidding war not just for Sky but 21st Century Fox. This has taken the focus away slightly from the Sky deal as the days are counting down until the Secretary for DCMS makes his decision by 30th May regarding 21st Century Fox’s bid for Sky.
There have been more developments in the continuing saga of the battle for ownership of Sky and Sky News between 21st Century Fox, Disney and Comcast.
The UK takeover panel recently ruled that if Disney completes its takeover of 21st Century Fox they have to make a takeover bid for Sky even if Fox’s (Murdoch) bid for the 61% of Sky it doesn’t own, is turned down.
Meanwhile, Comcast’s £22bn bid for Sky has rattled many cages and Sky’s independent board who initially encouraged Sky’s shareholders to accept Murdoch’s offer, has now withdrawn that recommendation.
To enhance their offer, and also avoid any complaints of media plurality, Comcast have pledged to keep Sky’s HQ in Osterley, south-west London and guarantee the editorial independence and funding of Sky News for at least 10 years. Also, and perhaps crucially, they have said they are not be interested in acquiring a majority share in any UK newspaper for 5 years.
It would appear that the next move may come from Murdoch via Disney. He needs Disney’s approval to improve the offer (£18.5bn) but will have to raise it by at least £4bn to even nudge ahead of Comcast’s bid.
We may know tomorrow (1st May 2018) what the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations are to Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He has 30 days to make his decision regarding Murdoch’s bid for full ownership of Sky.
Once that decision is made it seems that another bidding war will begin between Disney and Comcast for Sky and Sky News. Since Comcast’s offer the shares have already risen £1 over what their bid was. It seems that the real winners will be Sky shareholders. The pockets of both companies are deep and the stakes are high; it is anyone’s guess who will win the next round of this battle of media giants.
30th April 2018
Hot on the heels of Disney’s bid last December to buy the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s business, which includes its stake in Sky, another media giant has entered the arena making an alternative offer to purchase Sky.
US cable TV giant Comcast has made a £22.1bn bid for Sky, challenging an existing offer from 21st Century Fox.
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox had already agreed an £18.5bn deal to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own.
This offer was referred to the Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) who provisionally ruled it would not be in the public interest. The final CMA Report will be delivered to the Culture Secretary by 1st May and he will have 30 days to consider his decision.
Comcast is a US multinational media and telecommunications giant. Its cable TV business is one of the largest in the US, and Comcast Cable also sells internet and phone services. It owns NBCUniversal, which has news, entertainment and sports cable networks such as NBC and CNBC, as well as film giant Universal Pictures. Dreamworks Animation, which has made films including Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, is a subsidiary of Universal Pictures.
The reason Comcast want to buy Sky is because it would give them access to pay-tv in the UK, Germany and Italy and a presence in Spain, expanding their business beyond the US. This could well make 21st Century Fox’s bid redundant and any counter bid would have to be approved by Disney. Analysts are saying that Comcast’s bid may very well succeed as it would be attractive to the regulators as there would be no media plurality issue and shareholders would benefit. If Comcast are successful it would also give them an advantage against their competitors.
It would seem there may be more twists and turns ahead before we know who has won this media battle of the giants.
6th March 2018