Comcast Lifts The Lid On Pulling Out Of Fox Deal & Focusing On Sky Acquisition

Comcast has lifted the lid on why it dropped out of the bidding for 21st Century Fox and turned its focus to buying European pay-TV operator Sky.

The NBC Universal owner said that its pursuit of Fox was largely about the company’s international assets and ultimately made the call that it could not “build shareholder value” with the purchase. CEO Brian Roberts added that it believes Sky is a “good use of capital”.

Roberts said, “In the case of Fox, it was a unique opportunity and we were very disciplined in our approach to it and we felt it was mostly about international expansion opportunity. We had regulatory belief that it was approvable in the United States. In fact, we had conversations that were going well but ultimately we pulled back because we thought that we couldn’t build enough shareholder value by making the price that seemed possible at which to buy it at, which was increasing and that’s how we built the company. We’ve looked at thousands of tractions over 50 years and done several hundred and we have more times than not been able to create shareholder value

“We’re focused on Sky now, we think it’s a great business and it will fit well and it’s a good use of capital. It’s also unique.”

However, Roberts added that its pursuit of Fox did not mean it felt that NBC Universal couldn’t compete at scale. “In terms of scale, I think today’s great results show that our company has scale and it’s working well, maybe even better than that. In a number of our products, we’re the market leader, the best in class and that comes with scale,” he added.

The comments come after the company posted mixed quarterly financial results with revenues reaching $21.74B, albeit with flat numbers at NBC Universal as a result of falling revenues at its film division.

In a conference call after the results that was largely dominated by broadband talk – Comcast increased its broadband subscribers by 260,000 in the quarter, the company also discussed plans to open a new theme park in Florida and discussed its theme park ambitions in China.

“In terms of a new gate in Florida, we are looking at it, we filed a name registration and we have a lot of great IP and we love the theme park business, it’s one of our best and most consistent business and we think we have a very long runway. We think another gate in Florida would have the advantage of turning Florida from a two or three day destination to potentially a week long destination. We think that would be attractive,” said NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke.

“In China, there’s no sign of any friction related to what’s going on between the two companies. We’re actually starting vertical construction and things are going very well and we continue to believe a Universal Park in Beijing is going to be a huge addition to our theme parks segment,” he added.

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