Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Front Page - Bloomberg feed­

LON­DON: Com­cast jumped into the fray for Sky Plc, chal­leng­ing Ru­pert Mur­doch’s 21 Cen­tury Fox Inc. and Walt Dis­ney Co. with a cash of­fer valu­ing the busi­ness at £22.1 bil­lion ($31 bil­lion) and open­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a bid­ding con­test for the UK’s big­gest pay-TV com­pany.

Af­ter months spent scop­ing out Sky’s tech­nol­ogy plat­form and con­tent propo­si­tion of sports and en­ter­tain­ment across five coun­tries, the owner of NBCUniver­sal of­fered £12.50 per Sky share on Tues­day. That ex­ceeds the £10.75 of­fered by Fox for the 61% stake it doesn’t al­ready own in the Euro­pean broad­caster by about 16%.

Com­cast sprung the of­fer on Sky Tues­day morn­ing, its tim­ing sug­gest­ing it sees an open­ing to win over UK of­fi­cials and in­vestors. Fox has been strug­gling to se­cure reg­u­la­tory ap­proval for its bid and some Sky hold­ers have been ag­i­tat­ing for a bet­ter of­fer af­ter Dis­ney’s $52.4 bil­lion agree­ment in De­cem­ber to buy most of Fox’s film and TV as­sets, in­clud­ing its stake in Sky. Fox would hand full con­trol of Sky to Dis­ney if its takeover is suc­cess­ful.

Fox will be fu­ri­ous af­ter Com­cast’s bid, said Crispin Odey, Mur­doch’s for­mer son-in-law and founder of hedge fund man­ager Odey As­set Man­age­ment, which owns a 0.8% stake in Sky ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. “This is tanks on their lawn,” said Odey, who has been push­ing for a higher of­fer for Sky. Sky shares rose as much as 20% to 1,323.50 pence, higher than both bids and the most since Fox’s of­fer in De­cem­ber 2016.

Given the strate­gic im­por­tance of Sky to Fox and Dis­ney, a counter-of­fer well above Com­cast’s is now very likely, said Jerry Del­lis, an an­a­lyst at Jef­feries in Lon­don. Dis­ney chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Bob Iger called Sky a “crown jewel” among Fox as­sets in a De­cem­ber in­ter­view with Bloomberg TV.

Sky de­clined to com­ment while rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Fox and Dis­ney didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Com­cast chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Brian Roberts said he’s pre­pared for the Mur­dochs to spurn Com­cast’s ad­vance. The pro­posal is struc­tured so that Com­cast will be suc­cess­ful as long as it brings more than 50% of Sky share­hold­ers to its side. “We’d pre­fer 100% but it’s not a con­di­tion,” Roberts said on a con­fer­ence call.


Com­cast sprung the of­fer on Sky Tues­day morn­ing; its tim­ing sug­gest­ing it sees an open­ing to win over UK of­fi­cials and in­vestors

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