Positive reaction to Sky future under Comcast

Written by NTN staff

US cable operator Comcast will assume ownership of Sky after winning a bidding battle against 21st Century Fox and Disney, marking an end to a complicated process that has lasted years.

The battle for Sky is at last approaching its final phase after Comcast won the shoot-out auction on Sept 22nd. While Fox still has to consider options for its 39% stake, and other Sky shareholders have until October 11th to make a decision, one way or another it seems inevitable that Comcast will have control over most or all of the Sky business.

Comcast won a sealed-bid auction over the weekend, paying a price of £17.28 a share, which is more than double their value two years ago, and bringing to an end a prolonged battle for Sky’s ownership that first started eight years ago. News Corp made a bid in 2010 for £7.8bn while 21CF came in with an offer of £18.5bn in December 2016. Disney then came in last December with a deal to buy part of Fox, including its Sky stake.

Comcast entered the frame in February, interested both in Sky’s technology and European ambitions as the UK-based broadcaster rolls out streaming services in multiple European markets. The deal gives Comcast a subscriber base of 23 million and rights to sports and other premium content. The takeover comes as both companies also battle with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and other global OTT players, even as they partner with many of these. Both payTV operators have distribution agreements in place with Netflix.

Sky said its committee of independent directors, supported by financial advisers Morgan Stanley, PJT Partners and Barclays, will recommend it to shareholders. Comcast said it aims to de-list Sky, assuming it acquires at least 75 percent of the company's shares.

"Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremednous brand and accomplished management team. this acusition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally. We couldn’t be more excited by the opportunities in front of us," said CEO Comcast Brian Roberts.

The addition of Sky to its portfolio means Comcast now has 52 million customers in the US and Europe.

Analysts have reacted positively Sky becoming part of the Comcast empire.