Comcast attempts to outbid Fox for Sky

Sky box

Broadcasting giant Comcast has instructed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Davis Polk & Wardwell as it looks to trounce an existing offer for Sky from Rupert Murdoch-owned 21 Century Fox.

The businessman - who is now married to Jerry Hall, former wife of Rolling Stones rock legend Mick Jagger, had already submitted an £18.5 billion ($25.8 billion) to buy the 61 per cent stakeholding in Sky which it does not already own.

Britain's Sky, known for technological innovation and in 23 million European homes, has agreed already to be sold to 21 Century Fox, owned by Murdoch, but that takeover is delayed due to concerns by regulators over Rupert's influence across Britain.

"Sky and Comcast are a ideal fit: we are both leaders in creating and distributing content", Comcast Chief Executive Officer Roberts, 58, said.

"Adding Sky to the Comcast family of businesses will increase our global revenues from nine per cent to 25 per cent of company revenues".

Comcast is a USA multinational media and telecommunications giant.

Fox's offer represented £10.75 per Sky share. The 86-year-old mogul therefore has two options: revise the terms of the Disney sale to exclude Sky, or enter into a bidding war with Roberts. It also owns broadcaster NBC and Universal Pictures.

Roberts said that while the experience wasn't the deciding factor in moving forward with the bid, it reiterated the media group's value to the chief executive.

Sky shares jumped by a fifth on Tuesday morning and now trade nearly 7 percent above Comcast's bid.

Sky's chairman is Murdoch's son James, who is the CEO of Fox, so Comcast would have to gain the support of independent shareholders for its better offer if it does not make a hostile bid. The company's management issued a statement advising shareholders to take no action as Comcast had not yet made a firm offer.

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"As it is, Comcast has thrown its hat into the ring and is now seeking to meet with the Sky directors to flesh out the deal".

The regulator said the deal would not operate against the public interest in terms of either Fox or Sky having a genuine commitment to United Kingdom broadcasting standards.

Disney and 21st Century Fox did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

However, Comcast has said it would like to own the whole of Sky.

"We believe the combination of the business presents the opportunity to distribute Sky an NBCUniversal content in the United States and across Europe", Cavanagh said.

Separately, 21st Century Fox is shifting toward a smaller media empire with the planned $52.4 billion proposed sale of its movie and TV studio to Disney that was announced in December 2017.

Comcast also committed to maintaining Sky's London campus, supporting its investment in content, and keeping its technology and software hubs. "Just as with Comcast, adding more global distribution (direct to consumer) and content production is strategic to countering Netflix, Amazon, etc.", the banks' analysts said in a flash note.

The Comcast bid is the latest move in complicated, four-way deal talks that have been under way for more than a year between, first, Fox and Sky, then Fox and Disney and, separately, Fox and Comcast.

The UK government may also be looking for a way to defuse the political risks from the Fox bid, they added.