Published: Thu, April 26, 2018
Finance | By Gustavo Carr

Comcast sparks prospect of bidding war for Sky after gatecrashing Fox deal

Comcast sparks prospect of bidding war for Sky after gatecrashing Fox deal

In a move to address those concerns, the Comcast offer states the USA company's intention to not acquire a majority interest in any newspapers in the United Kingdom for five years, and the establishment of a Sky News board that will ensure the editorial independence of Sky News for a 10-year period.

The firm had also offered to insulate Sky's news operations from the influence of Murdoch and his family to win approval of its bid.

Twenty-First Century Fox, which already owns 39% of Sky, said it remained committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced in December 2016, and was now considering its options.

It has also offered to sell Sky News immediately to Disney, the United States entertainment giant, which before Christmas agreed to pay $52.4bn for Fox's entertainment assets, including its shareholding in Sky. Comcast Corp. reports earnings Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

Shares of Sky have gone up by almost 4% to approximately $1359.00, while shares of 21st Century Fox have only risen by about 2%, to almost $36.20.

They include pledges to establish an independent board for Sky News and to invest in the channel, for 10 years, at least as much as the channel's budget was in 2016-17.

In order to receive regulatory clearance, Comcast has made a range of commitments, including maintaining Sky News's annual expenditure for ten years.

In a bid to head off any competition concerns, the group said it will not acquire a majority stake in any United Kingdom newspapers for five years.

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"Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's CEO and Chairman, has said that the company "[believes] Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast". Sky is arguably the most equivalent company to Comcast outside of the US. The stock closed up nearly 4 percent at £13.59.

"Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand", he said.

"The rights may come with multibillion-pound price tags, but Sky has proven the Premier League deals are well worth the outlay".

"As far as the value of Sky goes, that's a game changer".

On Wednesday, Sky also welcomed commitments the USA cable giant had made to address potential public-interest concerns over Sky News, its influential 24-hour news channel.

"The independent committee also welcomes the post-offer undertakings and commitments Comcast intends to give in relation to Sky's existing business including Sky News, and believes that these voluntary commitments should comprehensively address any potential public interest concerns".

Comcast, which owns cable channels MSNBC and CNBC, argues its approach would escape concerns over media plurality because of its "minimal presence" in United Kingdom media.

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