Comcast throws its hat in the ring for Sky

The London headquarters of Sky the target of a bidding war between Comcast and Twenty First Century Fox

Walt Disney Co (DIS) Could Find Itself In Bidding War For Fox

Sky has 22.5 million customers in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy who are attracted by its sport offerings like English Premier League soccer but also its film channels and TV shows like "Game of Thrones".

Broadcasting giant Comcast has instructed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Davis Polk & Wardwell as it looks to trounce an existing offer for Sky from Rupert Murdoch-owned 21 Century Fox.

(FOX), which bid 18.5 billion pounds, or almost $26 billion, in December 2016 for a 61% stake in Sky that it did not own. The 86-year old mogul can either "enter a bidding war for Sky, or re-think his deal to sell Fox's entertainment assets to Disney chief Bob Iger".

Comcast is the biggest cable TV company in the USA and also owns TV network NBC and film studio Universal Pictures.

Analysts have already said that the Comcast deal is likely to go ahead - a higher bid is obviously much more attractive to Sky, and because "it would come with much lower regulatory risk". The proposal is structured so that Comcast will be successful as long as it brings more than 50% of Sky shareholders to its side. This month, the company successfully won continued United Kingdom broadcast rights for England's Premier League soccer matches for 2019-2022. That may be because Mr. Roberts's real objective is to upset a $52 billion all-stock tie-up that Disney and Fox announced in December. "Comcast is being opportunistic". Since no firm offer has been made at this point, shareholders are advised to take no action.

Sky would give Disney an important "bridgehead into Europe", DeGroote added.

Comcast's bid is £12.50, or about $17.46, per share, which it says implied an equity value of $31billion for Sky.

The prospect of a Fox takeover, however, has raised several regulatory concerns. A final recommendation from the regulator is expected in April, with a final decision from the government on approval of the takeover coming in June.

Murdoch helped to launch Sky in 1990 before his holding was cut to around 40 percent during its flotation in 1994.

Fox will be furious after Comcast's bid, said Crispin Odey, Murdoch's former son-in-law and founder of hedge fund manager Odey Asset Management, which owns a 0.8% stake in Sky according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Instead, it indicated, it would be happy with the current 39 percent.

Why does it want to buy Sky? .

Comcast bid $60 billion previous year to clinch a deal with Fox, before losing out to Disney.

Sky's shares jumped over 18% at the open in London on Tuesday, putting them above Comcast's offer price and suggesting investors anticipate a bidding war.

The new twist comes after Britain's competition regulator provisionally ruled that Fox's offer was "not in the public interest". Earlier this month both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast was thinking of reviving its attempt to counter Disney for Fox's assets even though its previous bid was rejected late past year.

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