Comcast formalized its $31 billion takeover offer for British satellite TV service provider Sky, setting in motion what could be a battle for the company with its current biggest stakeholder, 21 Century Fox.
Sky was to be part of Fox’s $66.1 billion deal to sell certain assets to The Walt Disney Co. Fox, which already owns 39% of Sky, had been trying to purchase the remainder of the company, but had faced some resistance from U.K. regulators. Comcast’s offer for 100% of Sky is a 16% premium to Fox’s previous bid.
“We are delighted to be formalizing our offer for Sky today,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “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.”
He added that the addition of Sky would boost Comcast’s total customer base to 52 million and allow the combined company to invest more in original and licensed programming as well as innovation.
“We look forward to receiving the necessary regulatory approvals,” Roberts continued in his statement.
In making its formal bid, Comcast also pledged to:
· Maintain annual expenditure in Sky News for ten years, at a level not less than incurred in Sky’s 2017 financial year;
· Establish an editorial Sky News board with the responsibility to ensure the editorial independence of Sky News for ten years;
· Maintain Sky’s UK headquarters in Osterley for five years; and
· Not acquire any majority interest in UK newspapers for five years.
The company also reiterated the promises it made to regulators in its February bid, including:
· Continue to support the creative industries in the UK and increase investment in UK film and TV production;
· Support innovation in the UK by continuing to support Sky’s technology hub in Leeds;
· Continue to support young people in the UK by maintaining Sky’s Software Engineering Academy scheme; and
· Continue to support Sky’s local community sports programs in the UK.