The landscape of European media and sports is set to be disrupted, as this weekend US telecoms and entertainment giant Comcast won the blind-bid to take majority control of Sky Plc.
Tabling a £29.7 billion offer at £17.29 per share, Comcast won the blind auction for Sky hosted by the UK Takeover Panel, completing European Media’s biggest ever acquisition.
Led by Chief Executive Brian L Roberts, Comcast outgunned Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Walt Disney backed £15.60 offer, valuing Sky assets at £26.5 billion.
The agreed transaction sees Comcast end a high-stakes two-year bidding war for Sky assets, which will see the US conglomerate significantly expand its European footprint, securing circa 23 million pay-TV customers across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy.
This week, business eyes will be focused on Rupert Murdoch who maintains a 39% stake in Sky Plc, through 21st Century Fox, his entertainment vehicle acquired last July by Walt Disney & Co for $70 billion.
Having gained shareholder approval, today Comcast will begin its purchase of Sky shares, seeking to secure 51% of the European media firm by 11 October.
Media rumours are rife with regards to Disney and Murdoch’s position over the 39% Sky stake. Disney’s pursuit of 21st Century Fox, was primarily led by the desire to acquire the media firm’s film and TV assets, helping Disney become the world’s largest entertainment operator.
At £17.29 per share, Disney may seek to cash-in on Sky’s pay-TV assets. However, rumours circulate that Murdoch may choose to tender a sum of the equity independently through his Fox enterprise, maintaining a significant influence in Sky, the broadcast company he founded in 1989.
At present, little is known with regards to Comcast’s future plans for Sky assets and how the US conglomerate will structure its operations to tackle the European TV markets.
On Sunday Brian L Roberts confirmed to the Financial Times that Jeremy Darroch would remain as Group CEO of Sky and that he wanted the pay-TV firm to maintain its independence as new Comcast asset.