Comcast takes Sky: Fox, Disney agree to sell stake
Comcast is getting all of Sky.
On Wednesday, 21st Century Fox announced that it would sell its 39 percent stake in Sky to Comcast, which won majority control of the European broadcaster in a dramatic auction over the weekend. Disney, which had backed Fox in the auction, said it had consented to the sale.
“In light of the premium Comcast has agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21CF’s existing 39 percent holding in Sky to Comcast,” Fox said in a statement. “We congratulate Comcast on their pending acquisition.”
Comcast outbid Fox and Disney on Saturday in a rare auction for most of Sky that was administered by the UK Takeover Panel.
The U.S. media company’s final bid was £17.28 ($22.65) per share, valuing Sky at £30.6 billion ($40.1 billion). That was over 25 percent more than its previous offer of £14.75 ($19.43) per share.
The sale marks the end of an era for Fox patriarch Rupert Murdoch, who had repeatedly sought to gain full control of Sky.
Fox’s latest takeover attempt faced lengthy delays as UK regulators investigated whether Fox would be a “fit and proper” owner and whether full control of Sky would give Murdoch’s family too much control over UK media.
The battle took on added significance earlier this year when Disney outbid Comcast for a big chunk of Fox’s assets including its existing stake in Sky.
Attention then turned to the battle for the remaining 61 percent of Sky.
On one side of the fight was Fox and its backer Disney. On the other was Comcast, which swooped in with an offer for Sky in February.
Both Comcast and Fox wanted to add Sky to their portfolios to help them compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Sky is a leader in pay TV in the United Kingdom and other markets including Germany and Italy. It also sells broadband and mobile phone services.
Disney said in a statement on Wednesday that it would use the proceeds from the sale of its Sky stake to help pay for the Fox purchase. The sale should raise roughly $15 billion.
“The sale of Fox’s Sky holdings will substantially reduce the cost of our overall acquisition and allow us to aggressively invest in building and creating high-quality content for our direct-to-consumer platforms to meet the growing demands of viewers,” Disney CEO Robert Iger said.
Disney said it plans to expand and invest in streaming services including Hulu, in which it will soon own a 60 percent stake. The other major investor in Hulu is Comcast, which owns 30 percent.
Comcast declined to comment on Wednesday.