Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Comcast raises Sky offer to $34 bn

Comcast raises Sky offer to $34 bn

Sky's shares were trading 3% higher as investors were betting on a higher bid from Fox to see off Comcast's competition.

Comcast and Walt Disney Co. are locked in a separate US$70-billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox's assets, including Sky, and Disney is backing Mr. Murdoch in his pursuit of the British firm. Second, if Disney wants to make sure Comcast only walks away with Sky, pushing the bid higher for the United Kingdom pay-TV company may be a defensive move to protect the remainder of the Fox assets.

Shareholders will be asked to vote on the Disney deal at a meeting on July 27, and both ISS and Glass Lewis recommended they approve the motion.

Fox initially went after Sky in December 2016, offering 10.75 pounds per share, but was held up over concerns that the tie-up would give Murdoch too much influence over Britain's media.

This includes not only having Sky at different media companies, but having Fox's regional sports networks, and possibly its 30% interest in Hulu, also going elsewhere.

"It's not clear to me that Disney would allow Comcast to get Sky at 14.75 pounds in order to definitively get hold of Fox when they are really in the driving seat", a London-based hedge-fund manager with shares in Fox and Sky told Reuters.

Netflix isn't going anywhere regardless of what Disney does, but if Disney is successful in acquiring the assets from 21st Century Fox, it will definitely be in a flawless spot to challenge them as a top platform.

The Panel said in April Disney should match Fox's first offer for Sky, which was 10.75 pounds a share. This would meet USA regulators' criteria to approve the deal.

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Fries said that there would be only one victor between Disney and Comcast for Fox.

And earlier this year, Disney created a direct-to-consumer and global unit.

Once fees from Comcast's bidding rival Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox are included, it could end up being one of the biggest paydays in City history. Comcast is now also working on a counter proposal to top Disney's deal with Fox. Disney are, understandably, backing Murdoch in his aim to acquire the remaining stock of Sky.

Fox said Disney had given its consent to the additional debt Fox would take on and said that it would reimburse Fox by around 1 billion pounds if Fox succeeds in buying Sky at that price, but the Disney-Fox transaction falls through.

Any big movie/TV studio content producer and TV network group - either Disney or Comcast - would be enough of a headache. Murdoch's higher bid for Sky earlier Wednesday put pressure on Comcast Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts to come back with a higher price.

Fox has been trying to get approval from United Kingdom regulators since 2016 to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own.

The bidding war, even during deliberation has intensified. The chain principle does not apply if Comcast buys more than 50% of Sky, or Fox prevails in its efforts to buy Sky before Disney is able to complete its acquisition of Fox assets.

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