PHILADELPHIA/LONDON (Heartland Newsfeed) — Comcast shares fell 6 percent, despite falling as low as 8 percent, Monday following the announcement that they had won the bidding war for British media giant Sky, redrawing the global media landscape.
Comcast was in a bidding battle with 21st Century Fox and Disney, ending with a $40.13 billion final bid, amounting to $22.66 per share compared to the Fox/Disney bid at $20.55 per share when the three companies were inquired of their best offer
Comcast’s offer values Sky $5.25 billion more than the combined bid and came highly recommended to shareholders via Sky’s independent committee tasked to evaluate the takeover bids. The takeover marks the end of tenure for Rupert Murdoch, who founded the company in 1989, ushering the rise of pay television in the United Kingdom.
The Comcast offer values Sky at almost £4bn more than the Disney-Fox bid and was recommended to shareholders by Sky’s independent committee, which was set up to evaluate the takeover bids. It brings an end to Rupert Murdoch’s long association with Sky, which he founded in 1989 – and which ushered in the pay-TV era in the UK.
The owner of NBCUniversal and Disney has sparred this year in a fight for Murdoch’s Fox empire, but Disney was victorious in taking over Fox’s entertainment businesses which included their movie studio in Hollywood, their cable channels, the Star of India and and Fox’s 39 percent stake in Sky, which has a value of $93.5 billion excluding debt. Disney may be recoup nearly $20 billion if they sell their share in Sky back to Comcast
Sky has 23 million subscribers with operations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Austria and Ireland and presents a powerful launchpad for additional digital services in such a time shaped by streaming juggernauts Netflix and Amazon.
“This is a great day for Comcast,” Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chief executive, 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.”
As explained by Craig Moffett, an analyst from Moffett Nathanson, the share price of a company who takes over another often declines and he was bearish on the bid and downgraded the stock to neutral from buy and lowered its target price from $41 to $36.
Disney refused comment on the auction.
Murdoch’s Fox group bought Sky in December 2016 with a $24.13 billion bid. However, with the tabloid newspaper phone-hacking scandal and unbecoming journalist behavior at newspapers owned by Murdoch still fresh in memory, the British parliament was placed into enough pressure to ensure Sky’s sale didn’t hand over more control and influence of the nation’s media market to Murdoch, with a lengthy regulatory review following.
Following this process from media watchdog Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority, Murdoch stunned rivals last fall announcing plans to break up his media empire, selling the majority of his entertainment assets to Disney, the top bidder in the auction.
The sale deal include Fox’s stake in Sky, which put Disney in the driving seat to potentially acquire the remainder of the company. However, Comcast crashed the party, making a rival bid for Fox’s assets, later dropping the bid after Disney increased their offer. Comcast would later make a separate bid for Sky.
Comcast’s takeover bid presented a hundred-fold increase in the stock shares prior to that initial Fox offer.
Sky’s management team, led by chief executive Jeremy Darroch, is expected to stay with the company, which will give its new owner significant cash flow and a big European footprint.
“This is the beginning of the next exciting chapter for Sky,” said Darroch. “As part of a broader Comcast we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe’s leading direct to consumer media company.”
The stock closed Monday at $35.63, later recovering in aftermarket trading by nearly 1 percent to $35.98.
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