Comcast outbids Fox with €33bn offer for Sky in auction

Welcome to a rare auctionMore

Welcome to a rare auctionMore

Comcast bid highest in a quick-fire auction of Sky, dealing Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox a potential knock-out blow in their battle for Europe's largest satellite broadcaster.

The U.S. cable giant bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 pounds-a-share offer by Fox, Britain's Takeover Panel said. Comcast now needs Sky investors to tender their shares by an October 11 deadline to seal its victory.

It now gives Sky shareholders a firm bid to evaluate after Fox and Comcast engaged in a series of counteroffers.

Sky also brings Comcast sought-after TV content, including rights to English Premier League soccer.

"Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand and accomplished management team, " Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

Comcast's knock-out offer thwarted Murdoch's long-held ambition to win control of Sky, and is also a setback for US entertainment giant Walt Disney (DIS.N) which would have likely been its ultimate owner. Comcast's proposal values Sky at £29.7-billion. It has been boosting its investment in original TV productions such as 1920s sex-and-crime saga "Babylon Berlin" and "Britannia", a period drama about the Roman conquest of Britain.

But Comcast's chief executive Briant Roberts quickly hailed the outcome as "a great day" for his company. As part of a broader Comcast, we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe's leading direct to consumer media company.

It is also a setback for U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney, which agreed a separate $71bn deal to buy the bulk of Fox's film and TV assets, including the Sky stake, in June and would have taken ownership of the British broadcaster following a successful Fox takeover. It would also represent a victory in Comcast's chequered history of deal making.

In July, Fox raised its offer to £24.5bn, but this was trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast. The loss of Sky partly stymies Iger's goal of establishing more direct ties to consumers and expanding his worldwide business.

Murdoch's son James, now chairman of Sky, was instrumental in building the company into the leading European pay TV group, with operations in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and more than 23 million customers attracted to its top-flight sport and entertainment content.

The payout for 87-year-old Murdoch's Fox would amount to 11.6 billion pounds if it tenders to Comcast, some consolation for his second failed attempt to grab the rest of the United Kingdom broadcaster.

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