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.
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.
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