Comcast has extended the deadline for Sky shareholders to vote on its current $34 billion bid for 61% of the European pay-TV giant after reporting “validated acceptance” by less than 1% of shareholders.
Owners of Sky stock will now have until 1PM GMT on September 12 to weigh in on the deal, an extension from yesterday’s original deadline. Comcast disclosed that it has thus far gotten the OK from the holders of only about 3.8 million shares, which is about 0.21% of the “ordinary share capital” of Sky.
Comcast in recent months has battled 21st Century Fox (itself about to mostly be swallowed up by Disney) for control of Sky. Earlier this summer, executives said they had ceded the Fox assets to Disney in order to focus on controlling Sky.
Fox’s previous offer was outdone by the current Comcast bid of £14.75 per share, but Fox still has until September 22 to sweeten its proposal, as the company reminded shareholders in a filing earlier this month. The Murdoch family has waged an epic effort to roll up all of Sky during the better part of this decade, but the scheme hit the rocks after the “phone hacking” scandal raised concerns among regulators about the stewardship of Sky News.
Shares in Comcast have drifted down a fraction today to $35.51 and have slumped about 10% in 2018 to date. The company, though it has steered NBCUniversal to strong results and continues to run the No. 1 U.S. cable operator, has come up empty on potential deals for Time Warner Cable and Disney in recent years. Disney has rejected at least three distinct overtures from the Philadelphia-based conglomerate since 2004.
The addition of Sky would add international revenue opportunities and the potential to convert Sky’s 23 million subscribers into an over-the-top network with the scale to fend off Netflix and other digital rivals. As with AT&T’s DirecTV, however, the current state of Sky is a predominately physical satellite network with roots in the 20th century media business. Nevertheless, it has valuable content rights, especially to viewer magnets like live sports, which would be a fit with NBCU’s formidable sports portfolio.