Comcast beat RupertMurdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox in the battle forSky after offering 30.6 billion pounds ($40 billion) for the British broadcaster, in a dramatic auction todecide the fate of the pay-television group.
U.S. cable giant Comcast bid 17.28 pounds a share forcontrol of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 offer by Fox, the Takeover Panel said in a statement shortlyafter final bids were made Saturday.
Comcast’s final offer was significantly higher than its bidgoing into the auction of 14.75 pounds, and compares with Sky’sclosing share price of 15.85 pounds on Friday.
Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast,coveted Sky to expand its international presence as growth slowsin its core U.S. market.
Owning Sky will make Comcast the world’s largest pay-TVoperator with around 52 million customers.
“This is a great day for Comcast,” Roberts said on Saturday.”This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently andmeaningfully increase our customer base and expandinternationally.”
Comcast, which also owns the NBC network and movie studioUniversal Pictures, encouraged Sky shareholders to accept itsoffer. It said it wanted to complete the deal by the end ofOctober.
Comcast, which requires 50 percent plus one share of Sky’sequity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Skyshares in the market.
A spokesman for Fox, which has a 39 percent holding in Sky,declined to comment.
The quick-fire auction marked a dramatic climax to aprotracted transatlantic bidding battle waged since February,when Comcast gate-crashed Fox’s takeover of Sky.
It is a blow to media mogul Murdoch, 87,and the U.S.media and entertainment group that he controls, which had beentrying to take full ownership of Sky since December 2016.
It is also a setback for U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney, which agreed on a separate $71 billion deal to buy the bulk of Fox’s film and TV assets, including the Sky stake, in June and would have taken ownership of the British broadcaster following a successful Fox takeover.