Titanic battle for Sky culminates in auction

September 22, 2018
Welcome to a rare auction

A titanic takeover battle for European TV operator Sky between Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox and US cable giant Comcast culminates Saturday in a rare blind auction.

Sky's subscription base of 23 million and rights to English Premier League football make it one of Europe's most profitable and powerful TV companies.

The auction pits two traditional US media behemoths who are seeking content to keep viewers from switching to streaming services such as Netflix.

Comcast's latest offer values Sky at £26 billion ($34 billion, 29 billion euros).

Fox has boosted its own bid to £24.5 billion and Saturday will decide who finishes with the highest offer in a complex process being held away from the public eye.

The showdown will help determine whether Australian-born US citizen Murdoch succeeds in acquiring the 61 percent stake in Sky he does not already have but has long sought.

The two-year saga is also reshaping the US media-entertainment world landscape by allowing Walt Disney Co. to complete its mega-merger with Fox.

Saturday's auction has thus turned into a proxy battle between Comcast and Disney for Sky.

Comcast's holdings already include Universal Studios and the US television channels NBC and CNBC.

Disney's empire stretches from its film studio and theme parks to the US television network NBC and the various ESPN sport channels.

Critics argue that allowing Murdoch—who owns major British newspaper titles The Times and The Sun—full control of Sky News would give him too much influence in the UK news business.

Fox has proposed to remedy this by sell the rolling TV news channel to Disney should it win full control of Sky.

It is rare for a takeover of this size and impact to be determined in a blind 24-hour auction that is due to end at 1600 GMT.

Britain's Takeover Panel decided this course after neither offer was deemed to be final and it sought "an orderly framework for the resolution of this competitive situation".

The Takeover Panel will not declare an winner but simply state the size of the offers made.

Sky shareholders will then have several days to decide which suitor they find most attractive and a final deal will be struck.

It set October 11 as the deadline "on which either offeror's offer can become or can be declared unconditional" by shareholders.

Sky is currently trading at £15.85 a share—above Comcast's latest offer price of £14.75.

Explore further: UK clears way for 21st Century Fox to buy Sky

Related Stories

UK clears way for 21st Century Fox to buy Sky

July 12, 2018

Britain on Thursday cleared the way for Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to take full control of pan-European TV giant Sky after Fox agreed to address media plurality concerns.

Fox-Comcast battle to buy Sky to be settled by auction in UK

September 20, 2018

Comcast and 21st Century Fox will settle their battle for control of broadcaster Sky through a rare auction designed to put an end to months of offers and counteroffers from the American media empires seeking a foothold in ...

Recommended for you

Understanding dynamic stall at high speeds

December 18, 2018

When a bird in flight lands, it performs a rapid pitch-up maneuver during the perching process to keep from overshooting the branch or telephone wire. In aerodynamics, that action produces a complex phenomenon known as dynamic ...

Pushing lithium ion batteries to the next performance level

December 13, 2018

Conventional lithium ion batteries, such as those widely used in smartphones and notebooks, have reached performance limits. Materials chemist Freddy Kleitz from the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Vienna and international ...

Uber filed paperwork for IPO: report

December 8, 2018

Ride-share company Uber quietly filed paperwork this week for its initial public offering, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.