Rupert Murdoch’s long-standing ambition to take full control of Sky is facing a fresh complication from an unexpected quarter after US cable giant Comcast tabled a rival $31bn bid for the pan-European broadcaster, significantly higher than 21st Century Fox's earlier $25.8bn submission.
An earlier bid by 21st Century Fox had seen it agree to pay the amount for a 61% stake in Sky, but US-based Comcast, which owned networks such as NBCUniversal, today (February 27) placed a rival bid under the UK City Code of Takeovers And Mergers code.
The Competition and Markets Authority is currently investigating Fox’s takeover bid after provisionally declaring that any move toward full ownership of Sky "would not be in the public interest". Further complications also arose in December when Walt Disney confirmed it was looking to purchase the majority of 21st Century Fox itself, including its stake in Sky.
In a prepared statement ahead of a US investors call to be hosted by Comcast later today, Brian L Roberts, Comcast Corporation, chief executive officer, said that if his outfit’s bid was successful it would build upon its existing European footprint, namely NBCUniversal operations in the UK, and take its international of overall revenues from 9% to 25%.
“We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany. Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming. It has great people and a very strong and capable management team,” he added.
A live webcast further detailing Comcast’s proposal is scheduled to be streamed live at 8am ET.