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Sky Takeover: US giant Comcast hijacks Murdoch's bid for full control

Sky Takeover: US giant Comcast hijacks Murdoch's bid for full control

Murdoch's Fox agreed to buy the 61 percent of Sky it did not already own in a cash deal in December 2016, but the takeover has been repeatedly held up by regulators over concerns the media tycoon wields too much influence in Britain.

Some analysts see such moves as a hedge for USA -based TV distributors such as Comcast against popular online streamers that are draining eyeballs from traditional television. Among many other assets, it owns Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation and channels like MSNBC, CNBC and The Weather Channel.

"We think Sky is an outstanding company", said Brian Roberts, Comcast's CEO.

Shares in Sky surged 20 percent to £13.26 in London on the prospect of a bidding war.

Comcast has also been reported to be considering trying to make a higher bid for the cable and studio assets that 21 Century Fox has agreed to sell to the Walt Disney Co.

"I suggested that we jump in a taxi and go to one of the malls and get a demo of Sky in one of their shops".

Why does Comcast want to buy Sky? It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany.

Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, operates cable TV and internet services in the USA besides owning TV channels and production studios. Sky Sports has a major stake in televising the English Premier League. According to Liberum, chances are better for the rival due to it being regarded as a lower risk. Either Twenty-First Century Fox will have to pay more for Sky, or Disney will lose a valuable global property to Comcast.

That came after Britain's top competition regulator ruled that the Sky takeover was not in the public interest because of media plurality concerns.

The Competition and Markets Authority is now investigating Fox's takeover bid after provisionally declaring that any move toward full ownership of Sky "would not be in the public interest".

Sky's share prices rose Tuesday, indicating Wall Street expects Murdoch to jack up his bid. That valuation sees Fox value Sky at £18.5 billion.

Cash-rich Comcast bid to buy the Fox entertainment assets - including Sky - which Mr Murdoch instead plans to sell to Disney in a £47bn deal. "We're going to miss our opportunity here", " said Alex DeGroote, a media and internet analyst at Cenkos Securities.

If Disney refused, then Fox would have to find the money itself, "which means it is then looking at a loss if Disney did end up acquiring 100% of Sky". The proposal is structured so that Comcast will be successful as long as it brings more than 50% of Sky shareholders to its side. The 86-year-old already fully owns The Times of London, The Sun, and The Wall Street Journal, and the United Kingdom watchdog feared full control of Sky would give him too much control.

Given the strategic importance of Sky to Fox and Disney, a counteroffer well above Comcast's is now very likely, said Jerry Dellis, an analyst at Jefferies in London.

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