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Takeover battle for Sky to be resolved at weekend showdown

The long-drawn battle between American media giants Comcast (CMCSA) and 21st Century Fox (FOXA) to acquire British Pay-TV firm Sky Plc. is nearing the climax. The companies have agreed to an auction, to be held in London Saturday, to settle the dispute. However, regulators rarely take the auction route when large organizations are involved.

Being the lower bidder, Fox is expected to make the first bid, sticking to its earlier offer price of GBP14 per share, at the auction to be conducted in a maximum of three rounds. Comcast will be entering the ring with its previously announced price of GBP14.75 per share, the highest ever offered for Sky by any bidder. The company that makes the bigger bid will be declared the winner in the third and final round. The estimated purchase price is $36 billion.

Being the lower bidder, Fox is expected to make the first bid, sticking to its earlier offer price of GBP14 per share

Meanwhile, speculations are rife that Comcast would come out victorious with a clear lead. Disney (DIS), which owns majority stake in Fox, will be playing a key role in the entire process by calling the shots with regard to the latter’s offer price. Fox already owns a 39% stake in Sky, which gives the Rupert Murdoch-owned company an advantage over the rival bidder.

Though the odds are in favor of Comcast when the battle for Sky – which is reminiscent of the recent takeover war in which Disney outbid Comcast to buy the assets of Fox – enters the climax, it will not be a cakewalk for the Pennsylvania-based company. In all probability, Sky will continue to be a standalone entity, irrespective of its new owner.

Hulu and Fox: What lies ahead as they enter the Disney family?

There are multiple factors that make Sky a coveted buyout target, especially for an American peer. With more than 20 million subscribed users and a network covering the whole of Europe, Sky offers a unique opportunity to access the lucrative market. Besides holding the rights to stream some popular football matches, Sky runs its own cable TV channel that drives useful feedback from viewers.

Comcast’s stock, which is on the recovery mode after slipping from the peak reached in January this year, made moderate gains Friday. Meanwhile, Fox remained in the red throughout the session, extending the recent losing streak.

Comcast shares rise on upbeat Q2 earnings

Two Internets? Former Google chief thinks it’s a possibility

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Alphabet’s (GOOGL) subsidiary Google, predicts that the Internet will split into two by 2028 with one version being led by China and the other one by the US. According to a report by CNBC, Schmidt made these remarks at a private event hosted by Village Global VC in San Francisco.

Google chief predicts Internet will split in two by 2028
(Image Courtesy: Pawel Czerwinski/Unsplash)

Schmidt described the companies, services and wealth being produced in China as phenomenal and said that globalization provides the Asian country with many opportunities. He added that these developments could bring about new government policies that involve more rules for censorship and control in the region.

The ex-chief said that initiatives being undertaken by China in trade help in connecting the nation with several countries around the world and this in turn could lead to those countries adopting China’s controlled infrastructure.

Google has already faced criticism for reportedly taking on a project that involves the development of a censored search engine to suit the needs of Chinese officials. As per the Asian country’s strict censorship laws, search results on sensitive issues will be blocked or hidden.

Several lawmakers as well as the company’s employees raised concerns against the project and employees signed a letter asking for transparency while also stating that the plans raised ethical concerns. CEO Sundar Pichai said that the company was simply exploring its options with regards to entering China and that nothing was confirmed yet.

Google has faced a number of issues lately with regards to the tracking of user locations as well as criticism from President Donald Trump who claimed that the search engine muffled conservative voices and good news.

Google employees protest against controversial China search engine

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