Comcast outbid 21st Century Fox in its months-long battle for control of Sky, bidding $38.8B for the U.K. satellite giant in a blind auction Saturday (Sept. 22).
“This is a great day for Comcast," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. "Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team. This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally. We couldn’t be more excited by the opportunities in front of us. We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018.”
Comcast bid £17.28 ($22.55) per share for Sky, besting Fox's offer of £15.67 ($20.47) per share. The Comcast bid was 38% higher than its initial offer of £12.50 per share for Sky back in February.
That February bid touched off a six-month battle for the Sky assets, of which Fox already owned 39%. In July, Fox increased its bid to $32.5 billion, an offer that was immediately bested by Comcast at $34 billion.
On Friday, the U.K. Takeover Panel, the regulatory agency that polices large transactions in the country, said it would exercise its right to resolve the bidding war via a blind auction. The auction commenced early Saturday and consisted of three rounds, with the largest offer the winner.
Now the question is what Fox will do with its 39% interest in Sky. That stake was part of a larger $71.3 billion deal to sell certain content assets to The Walt Disney Co., which could either sell the stake to Comcast, or continue as a minority partner. Disney and Comcast have a history with the assets -- the cable company had battled with the programmer for the Fox content assets, dropping out of the race in July to focus more on its Sky bid.
Comcast had said that the Sky properties are a key part of its strategy to diversify internationally. It also has said it would be content to have a partner (Disney) in the satellite business, but some analysts have speculated it could swap its 30% interest in online video pioneer Hulu (in which Disney would own 60% after its Fox deal is completed) for the remainder of Sky.