Comcast Wins Auction of Sky With $39 Billion Bid

21st Century Fox was among the potential buyers Saturday to decide winner of British pay-TV company

Last Updated: September 22, 2018 @ 5:32 PM

The tug-o’-war between 21st Century Fox and Comcast for British pay-TV company Sky PLC is finally over, with Comcast submitting a winning bid of roughly $39 billion in an auction on Saturday.

The fate of Sky was decided during a three-round auction held by the U.K. Takeover Panel, a rarely-used tactic in handling mergers and acquisitions in the U.K. Comcast’s triumph came after the company offered  £17.28 (roughly $22.59) per share for the company in the final round, handily outbidding Fox’s offer of  £15.67 (roughly $20.49).

“We note the increased cash offer for the fully diluted share capital of Sky by Comcast, and that it has been recommended by the Independent Committee of Sky,” Fox said in a statement. “21CF is considering its options regarding its own 39 percent shareholding in Sky and will make a further announcement in due course. Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast’s offer.”

U.S. companies have been looking more frequently internationally for a way to further build scale to compete against the rising tide of deep-pocketed tech companies — like Amazon and Netflix — invading their turf. This made Sky an attractive asset.

Sky’s businesses could grow Comcast’s international revenue from 9 percent of its overall revenue to 25 percent. Sky counts nearly 23 million customers in key parts of Europe, including Germany, Italy and Austria, along with the U.K. and Ireland.

Sky should fit in nicely with Comcast’s other assets, namely NBCUniversal, with its mix of entertainment, sports and news content. In February, Sky extended its rights deal with the English Premier League through 2022, among the world’s most popular (and thus, valuable) sports leagues. That would work well with Comcast, which holds the U.S. TV rights for the British soccer league via NBCUniversal, also through 2022.

Winning Sky serves as a pretty nice consolation prize for Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who had attempted to outflank Disney in its pursuit of Fox, before eventually bowing out to focus on acquiring the British pay-TV company.

The U.K. Takeover Panel, which oversees all mergers and acquisitions, sets a deadline that, if there are still multiple suitors for a company, will trigger an auction to determine the winning bidder.

The Takeover Panel set the auction deadline to ensure that the company being acquired wasn’t “under siege” for too long, while giving the shareholders for the potential buyers enough time to review all relevant materials from the proposal. Per the U.K.’s Takeover Code, that deadline was 46 days after the most recent offer was formally published with the U.K. Stock Exchange.

The Takeover panel will publish details of each side’s offer after the auction no later than Sept. 24.

Reps for Comcast did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

Jon Levine contributed to this story.