Comcast bids $31 billion for Sky TV, undermining Fox

Sky Q box with splash of colours coming out of

Sky Q box with splash of colours coming out of

Comcast's $31 billion bid to buy United Kingdom broadcaster Sky is not just an attempt to thwart Disney or to expand globally.

Comcast's all-cash, unsolicited offer pits CEO Brian Roberts against Murdoch, the 86-year-old tycoon who helped to launch Sky and pioneered pay-TV in Britain.

"By making a play for Sky now it can get what it wants before Disney gets close - timing is everything and Comcast seems to have played its hand very well so far", he said.

Sky said: "The Independent Committee of Sky notes today's announcement from Comcast regarding a possible all cash offer for Sky at £12.50 per share (the "Possible Offer")".

The latest round of major deals indicates the pressures being felt by traditional cable television networks which have been losing customers to streaming services like Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Amazon.com Inc.

The CMA is now expected to send a final report over the issue to UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by the beginning of May when he will then be given 30 working days to make a final decision over whether the Fox acquisition can go ahead. It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany.

The US cable operator confirmed its interest in taking a majority stake as a 21st Century Fox deal to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own remains held up by regulatory clearances.

Sky's shares jumped more than 18% to above £13 in early trading on the London Stock Exchange. It will be particularly interesting to see how Rupert Murdoch responds - don't forget he already owns around 39 per cent of Sky. "We're able to sit down with the NBC creatives and Sky's creative team and there will be synergistic opportunities to work together on show concepts, film distribution and technology".

If 21st Century Fox wished to counter Comcast's offer, it would likely need approval from Disney.

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

The offer is a huge statement of intent from the mild-mannered media mogul Roberts, 58, who took over as head of the cable and entertainment conglomerate from his father, Ralph, who founded the company in 1963.

Comcast chief financial officer Michael Cavanagh said the Premier League auction was a factor, but not the driving force behind the offer.

A Comcast spokesman said it would ask regulators in Brussels to look at the deal where it expects to avoid a lengthy investigation.

21st Century Fox proposed Sky takeover faces a setback.

The offer represents a 16 percent premium on Fox's £10.75 per share offer to acquire the remaining 60.9 percent of Sky that it doesn't already own, made back in December 2016.

Shares of both Comcast and Disney declined on the news.

Murdoch had been edging towards a deal for Sky in recent weeks, eight years after he first tried to buy the company.

"Sky is a prized asset for Murdoch so this could quickly escalate into a bidding war", said London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler.

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