Rupert Murdoch's Sky bid challenged by Comcast
- Author: Darren Santiago Mar 02, 2018,
Mar 02, 2018, 1:19
The British competition regulator has said in a preliminary finding that a Fox takeover of the entire company would give the Murdoch family too much control of Britain's media.
Alex DeGroote, a media analyst for Cenkos Security who has been following Sky for 15 years, said the market's early reaction - Sky shares soared 21 percent on news of the bid - implies that investors think there will be a bidding war.
In a brief response, Sky advised shareholders to take no action in the absence of a formal bid.
Sky shares rose as much as 20% to 1 323.50p, higher than both bids and the most since Fox's offer in December 2016.
"Viewers will get even higher quality content", he said.
"It's obviously a huge gauntlet that's been laid down to the Murdochs in relation to their pre-existing offer", said Alice Enders, head of research at Enders Analysis.
His 21st Century Fox countered in a statement that it "remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky", according to The New York Times .
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The Competition and Markets Authority is set to issue its full report on the proposed takeover in May, but said the deal was not in the public interest in January.
Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox had already agreed an £18.5bn deal to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own. Including debt, the deal is worth $66.1 billion. However, since the bid for Sky was launched, 21st Century Fox has agreed to sell many of its assets, including Sky, to Disney.
Currently, around 9 per cent of Comcast's revenue is generated internationally but by buying Sky, it would be able to increase that proportion to 25 per cent. Sky currently has around 23 million customers globally and dominates in Italy, Germany, as well as here in the United Kingdom, which would mean that Comcast could swiftly grasp swathes of the market in which it has yet to make a splash.
"This is a great asset, and it has been for several decades", he added during a morning conference call with USA investors.
Comcast wants to expand in Europe by purchasing Sky TV.
Fox's current efforts to buy Sky are now being investigated by the UK's competition regulator on plurality and corporate governance grounds. "We have tremendous respect for Sky News and its strong track record for high-quality editorial and journalistic independence", Roberts said.
Comcast added that it did not believe its offer "should create any media plurality concerns in the UK".
Comcast had itself been in talks to buy parts of Fox, so its bid for Sky could be a more direct way to acquire media assets in Europe, analysts say.