Barring sudden unforeseen developments, the acquisition of choice assets from 21st Century Fox (movie studio and TV network among them) by Disney is pretty much a done deal. There is only detail that until recently has not been resolved, the matter of the UK-based pay TV giant Sky. That asset was part of the original package from Fox to Disney, which secured the acquisition despite another offer from Comcast. Comcast changed tactics and made to bid for the Sky shares alone, with Fox seeking to hold onto it for Disney. This weekend, Comcast technically had payback for its failed bid.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Comcast has gotten one over on Fox when it posted the higher bid to acquire Sky in a three-round auction taking place only a single day on Saturday, September 22. The auction for the pay TV service was overseen by the UK Takeover Panel which has purview over takeover acquisitions in Britain where Sky is based. Here Comcast made a final offer of £17.28 per share, equivalent to $22.60, which in turn puts Sky at a valuation of £29.7 billion ($38.8 billion). Fox, even with backing from Disney, could only muster up to $20.50 per-share.
The auction for Sky was brought about due to both Fox and Comcast not having made their final bids or decided to bow out of the attempts at acquisition before the September 22 deadline arrived. By prevailing in its auction bid, Comcast is now in position to pick up Sky, its digital and streaming assets and more importantly, its 23-million strong base of European subscribers in order to extend the reach of its own subsidiaries – NBC, Telemundo, MSNBC, USA Network, E!, Universal Pictures and more – across the Atlantic. In a way, it may have come across as the better deal compared to the rest of the Fox media assets that are now going to Disney.
Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman and CEO, gave an official statement noting how their company’s successful bid has given them a platform to help expand internationally. “We couldn’t be more excited by the opportunities in front of us,” remarked Roberts. “We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018.” Sky plc for its part has decided to advise its shareholders to turn over their shares to Comcast, citing the move as being in their best interests to accept.
With Sky good as theirs, Comcast is now poised to weather the storm being generated by global streaming services like Amazon and Netflix, which have long been the bane of cable and satellite TV services.
Image from Napa Valley Register