Daily Management Review

Comcast intervenes in the 21st Century Fox - Walt Disney deal


The largest US cable television operator, Comcast, made a proposal to buy European media company Sky plc for $ 31 billion. Thus, the American company questioned the successful completion of the already approved deal between Walt Disney and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which owns 39% of Sky.

Mike Mozart via flickr
Mike Mozart via flickr
Comcast, the largest US cable television operator announced its readiness to acquire a leading European media company and pay-TV service provider Sky plc for $ 31 billion (£ 22 billion) and pay cash at a rate of £ 12, 5 per share. This offer is 16% higher than that of Rupert Murdoch and his corporation 21st Century Fox made at the end of 2016 and already approved by the European Commission. Moreover, the proposal is undermining by Walt Disney’s transaction, which is in the regulatory stage. At the moment, Rupert Murdoch through the company 21st Century Fox owns 39% of Sky, and he has been trying to purchase the rest of the company since 2010.

The Sky plc predecessor, Sky Television, was founded by Mr. Murdoch in 1989. In 1990, after merging with a competitor to British Satellite Broadcasting, the company became known as British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). In 2010, News Corp Rupert Murdoch expressed a desire to buy back the remaining shares of BSkyB, but just at this time a scandal with the wiretapping of journalists by the British edition of News of the World, owned by News Corp, broke out. As a result, the European media business News Corp has undergone significant changes: News of the World was closed, several dozen directors, editors and journalists were brought to court, BSkyB repurchased shares in its subsidiaries in Germany and Italy and changed its name to Sky plc. Against the backdrop of the scandal, Mr. Murdoch's proposal to buy the remaining stake in BSkyB or Sky was not approved by regulators.

The American billionaire made a new attempt in 2016: 21st Century Fox offered for a stake in Sky £ 11.7 billion (£ 10.75 per share). After a long and thorough study of the transaction by the relevant authorities, it was approved by the European Commission in April last year.

However, the situation developed unexpectedly when, in December 2017, Walt Disney offered $ 66 billion for most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, including television and film studios, a cable TV network, an international television business, and a 39 percent stake in Sky. 21st Century Fox accepted the offer, and the deal was planned to be completed within one to one and a half years, subject to obtaining the appropriate permits.

Thus, Comcast’s statement about the readiness to buy Sky annoyed not only Rupert Murdoch, but also the head of Walt Disney Robert Iger. Commenting on his offer to purchase Sky, Comcast head Brian Roberts called the European company outstanding. "It has 23 million customers, it holds leading positions in the UK, Italy and Germany. Sky is constantly improving in the use of technology ... It has amazing people, and it has a very strong team of managers," he said.

Mr. Roberts stressed that they would like to get Sky entirely and expect to take possession of the 39% that are now owned by 21st Century Fox.

source: bloomberg.com

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