Comcast, Fox to settle $35B takeover for Sky in an auction

Cornelia Mascio
Settembre 23, 2018

The panel has ordered a two-day auction that will allow Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox and rival bidder USA media conglomerate Comcast to make new bids from Friday night for the broadcaster.

The U.K. Takeover Panel said Thursday the auction would consist of a maximum three rounds of bidding, starting Friday and ending Saturday, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

The Takeover Panel said that the auction would start at 17:00 London time on Friday and end on Saturday evening.

A United Kingdom regulator said Thursday that, barring a settlement, a three-round bid process will take place on Saturday - after which a victor will be named. 21st Century Fox made its first bid for the chunk of Sky it doesn't already own in December 2016.

Comcast will take on the tag team of 21st Century Fox and Disney, with investors expecting the winning side to value Sky at at least £27bn.

"Shareholders will be delighted at how this has all played out, having seen the share price double since just before the original offer was made by Twenty First Century Fox nearly two years ago", said Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. The battle is part of a larger contest between Disney and Comcast to take over many of Fox's media and entertainment assets.

The U.K. broadcaster is now valued at £27 billion, which translates to more than $35 billion. Fox's last bid was $32.5 billion.

Top original shows and premium sports content have made Sky a leader in pay TV in the United Kingdom and other markets including Germany and Italy.

If the Fox offer tops Comcast's current high bid of $19.50, the cable operator, in a second round, will be able to submit an even higher price.

An auction for Sky, which broadcasts to 23 million households across Europe, would be the biggest ever deal in the United Kingdom to be decided by a panel-run auction.

Such auctions are exceptionally rare and this will only be the fifth takeover to be decided in this way since the rules were changed in 2002. They would not be bidding blind and would know the outcome of the first round, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

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

Fox has faced heavy scrutiny from the UK Government and competition watchdogs over its Sky takeover plans, while Comcast's bid was cleared by regulators early on in the process.

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