Comcast Tops Fox With $31B Offer for Sky

Sky pulls support for Murdoch bid as Comcast confirms $31-billion offer

"We are delighted to be formalizing our offer for Sky today", Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

In the continuing saga of USA media conglomerates battling over Sky of the United Kingdom, Comcast has fired the latest salvo in its hopes of gaining control of the company.

In response to Comcast's new offer, Sky released a statement saying that the Independent Committee has withdrawn its recommendation of Fox's offer and will be terminating the Cooperation Agreement that they had with the American media company, due to the "announcement of [Comast's] higher cash offer".

Shares of Comcast went up by almost 3% on Wednesday already reaching a high of $34.78 after closing on Tuesday at $33.35.

Sky shares rose 3.5 percent to 13.54 pounds by 1310 GMT - well above the offer price, implying that some shareholders anticipated a bidding war.

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"We think Sky is an outstanding company".

Accompanying its offer, Comcast made a number of commitments on how it will run Sky, many of which match pledges previously made by Fox.

Sky's board welcomed Comcast's overture.

The bid was high enough to motivate Sky to walk back its recommendation for Fox's $16 billion bid for the remaining 61% of the company it does not already own.

The deal has been held up by concerns about the influence Murdoch could wield over public opinion through owning all of the broadcaster as well as British newspapers including The Times and The Sun. Generously add those to consensus estimates for Sky's operating profit in 2020, tax the lot at 18 percent, and the return on invested capital is nearly 7 percent. Disney struck a deal to buy most of its entertainment properties, including its stake in Sky.

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Whether Sky goes for it is the next question.

It's open season for Sky, which has a major satellite television and broadband internet presence in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy in addition to the U.K. Sky also is a major producer of movies and TV shows and a holder of major European sporting rights.

"The group looks on course to deliver operating profits of £1.5bn this year, double what it earned 10years ago". These include a promise to maintain investment in Sky News and preservation of its editorial independence - "issues that have become sticking points for the United Kingdom regulators scrutinising the Fox bid for Sky", says the Financial Times. It will also establish a Sky News editorial board to ensure the channel's independence, keep the United Kingdom headquarters in Osterley for five years and not acquire any majority interest in British newspapers for five years.

Comcast, which owns cable channels MSNBC and CNBC, argues its approach would escape concerns over media plurality because of its "minimal presence" in United Kingdom media.

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