Sky Takeover: Comcast, Fox to Duke It Out in Weekend Auction

Lloyd Doyle
September 23, 2018

Comcast and 21st Century Fox will settle their battle for control of broadcaster Sky through a rare auction created to put an end to months of offers and counteroffers from the American media empires seeking a foothold in the European pay TV market.

The long-running bidding battle for Sky will be decided in a quick-fire auction finishing on Saturday night, Britain's Takeover Panel has announced.

The Takeover Panel, the City's regulator of merger processes, will act as referee between the Murdoch family, who contol Fox and will line up alongside Disney chairman Bob Iger, and Brian Roberts, the Comcast chief.

The auction will take place the following day in private and is slated to finish during the evening, when the regulator will announce the level of the bids submitted by the suitors.

It would mark a dramatic resolution of Sky's fate, which has been up in the air ever since Fox made its first bid in December 2016.

Fox's bid for Sky is backed by Walt Disney, which in June agreed a separate deal to buy TV and film assets from Fox, including its existing 39 percent Sky shareholding, for about $71 billion.

Sky is now valued at around $35 billion.

Sky offers a wide range of entertainment, business and sports programming, including broadcast rights to England's Premier League soccer games. (Walt Disney, however, has agreed to acquire a big portion of Fox for roughly $71 billion, including a stake in Sky.) Murdoch still has ambitions to boost his holdings in the United Kingdom media prize.

If Comcast takes over Sky, it will become the biggest pay TV provider in the world, with around 52 million customers after adding Sky's 23 million subscribers. If a "final and best" offer is not lodged by either party 5 p.m. Friday - which is not considered likely - the auction process will kick in. They will do so knowing what their rival has done in the previous round, a source close to the process said.

It is possible that auction could end with both Fox and Comcast offering the same price for Sky, the Panel said.

Shares of Sky, which are now valued at 1475p under Comcast's latest offer, were up 1p at £15.81p at 13:05 BST.

In the second round only the other suitor, now Comcast, would be allowed to increase their offer.

The battle for Sky is set to go to an auction, which will be settled Saturday.

Comcast entered the bidding war for Sky in February when it said it was considering making an offer, according to the Takeover Panel.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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