Sunday, 15 September, 2019

Comcast raises Sky offer to $34 bn

The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles California The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles California
Rhonda Young | 16 July, 2018, 07:03

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA.O) increased its takeover bid for Sky Plc, topping an offer from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. This would mean that Disney would be able to pick up the shares for nearly $2 billion less than Comcast have offered already, confusing, right?

Sky shares closed at 15.15 pounds.

The battle for Sky comes as Comcast is also embroiled in a takeover battle with Disney for Fox entertainment assets that are being split off from Murdoch's empire. Some Fox businesses, like Fox News Channel, will be spun off into a new company.

Fox will be hoping to see off competition from Comcast after a long battle to buy the remaining stake in Sky, having faced heavy scrutiny from the Government and the competition watchdog.

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Comcast, which made a $65 billion all-cash offer for the Fox assets last month only for Disney to raise its bid, would need to return before that date if it is to give investors enough time to consider its bid. In the U.S., Comcast rose 0.7 percent to $34.01 and Fox fell 0.2 percent to $47.68.

Sky is at the centre of a complex trans-Atlantic bidding war between Twenty-First Century Fox, Comcast and Walt Disney that will generate large fees for advisory firms working on all sides.

The speed with which Comcast's Brian Roberts produced a counterbid shows how determined he is to buy Britain's Sky, a broadcaster of sports, films and TV shows to 23 million homes across Europe. They also estimate FTSE 100 company Sky will shell out as much as £96 million to its own bankers, lawyers, accountants, and PR advisers.

The agreed price represents an 82percent premium to Sky's shares in December 2016, before it struck its original deal to buy Sky. Of the assets he's seeking to acquire from Fox, Disney CEO Bob Iger called Sky "a real crown jewel". So if Comcast were to increase its bid for Fox, it's also increasing the value of Sky that Fox owns. When factoring in synergies, it says the offer equates to around £12.57 ($21.87) to Comcast, implying a multiple of 15.3 times Sky's forecast 2020 earnings, and falling thereafter.

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Fox's new bid this week was for £14 per share, which values Sky at £24.5 billion ($32.5 billion).

One hedge fund manager with a stake in Sky welcomed that pledge as a sign that Disney backed Fox in the battle. Yes, we are talking again about the proposed acquisition of Fox by Disney.

"Fox coming back in for Sky isn't a surprise in itself, but the fact the offer is slightly behind what some had anticipated brings another twist", said George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. Second, if Disney wants to make sure Comcast only walks away with Sky, pushing the bid higher for the United Kingdom pay-TV company may be a defensive move to protect the remainder of the Fox assets.

In 2011, Murdoch was forced to abandon a takeover bid for BSkyB - as controversy raged over the hacking of celebrities and crime victims by his tabloid the News of the World, which was subsequently shut down. The opposition has not completely subsided despite the plan to spin off Sky News.

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