Comcast outbids Fox to win control of Sky
Rupert Murdoch’s decade-long dream to control broadcaster finally scuppered
US media giant Comcast has outbid Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to win control of Sky, bringing to an end a protracted takeover battle that stretches back almost a decade.
In an unprecedented one-day auction, the US cable conglomerate paid £30.6 billion for the British broadcaster, making it’s the world’s largest pay TV operator with around 53 million customers.
Reuters says chief executive Brian Roberts “has had his eye on Sky as a way to help counter declines in subscribers for traditional cable TV in its core US market as viewers switch to video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon.”
However, the move will come as a bitter blow to Rupert Murdoch who has long harboured ambitions to take control of the 61% of Sky he doesn’t already own.
A takeover bid in 2011 was dropped in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, only to be renewed in December 2016.
Some politicians had opposed the takeover, however, citing concerns about the influence Murdoch would wield over the UK’s news agenda.
Murdoch has made numerous concessions to regulators, but in the end it was the last-minute intervention of a rival that scuppered his plans.
The media mogul and his sons Lachlan and James said that they are considering their next steps with regards to the 39% of Sky they still own and "will make a further announcement in due course," according to a memo to staff obtained by CNN.
“In the end, Comcast perhaps needed it more urgently with their home market in the US dwindling” says BBC business editor Simon Jack, “but the biggest cheers tonight will be from Sky shareholders - who have seen the value of the company driven up by two deep-pocketed rivals in the auction room”.
Comcast will pay them £17.83 pence per share - nearly double what they were worth a year ago.