“As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the independent committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by Twenty-First Century Fox on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the Co-operation Agreement entered into with Twenty-First Century Fox on the same date,” Sky’s independent directors said in a statement on Wednesday.
But stay tuned, this one likely has twists in it yet.
PREVIOUS 03:57 AM PST: Let the battle commence. Comcast is officially looking to spoil Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of Sky by launching a rival offer of 30B (£22B). The bid has been in the works for months, but the U.S.’s largest cable company has today made a formal £12.50 a share offer for the pan-European broadcaster that values it at £22bn.
To date, Fox has offered £10.75 a share and has separately agreed to sell its entertainment assets — including Sky — to Disney. Fox owns 39% of Sky and put in its bid to take full control at the end of 2016.
Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, said today: “We are delighted to be formalizing our offer for Sky today. We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast. Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand. It is led by a terrific management team who we look forward to working with to build and grow this business.”
“With its 23 million retail customers, leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany, and its history of strong financial performance, we see significant opportunities for growth by combining our businesses. Sky is a highly complementary business and will expand Comcast’s international footprint in the UK and Continental Europe. Sky will be our platform for growth across Europe. The combined customer base of approximately 52 million will allow us to invest more in original and acquired programming and more in innovation as we strive to deliver a truly differentiated customer experience. We look forward to receiving the necessary regulatory approvals.”
The U.S. giant, which had first proposed an offer at the same £12.50 a share price in February, made a number of commitments today including to maintain investment in Sky News and preservation of its editorial independence, which has been a key sticking point for UK competition regulators in Fox’s bid.
Comcast, owner of NBC Universal, had an offer for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, which include Sky as well as Deadpool and X-Men studio 20th Century Fox, denied by Murdoch last year. The mogul instead agreed a $66bn (£47bn) sale to rival studio Disney but this has been held up by regulators.