Fox says it will sell or tender its 39 percent ownership in Sky to Comcast, who purchased the rest of the U.K. media giant over the weekend for $39 billion. This remaining stake is currently worth $15.3 billion.
Here is 21st Century Fox’s full statement on its decision to unload its holdings:
In light of the premium Comcast has agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21CF’s existing 39% holding in Sky to Comcast. We congratulate Comcast on their pending acquisition.
We are proud of the role our company has played in building Sky, and of the outstanding value we have delivered for shareholders of 21CF and Sky, and customers across Europe.
When we launched Sky in 1989 it was four channels produced from a prefab structure in an industrial park on the fringes of west London. We bet — and almost lost — the farm on launching a business that many didn’t think was such a good idea. Today, Sky is Europe’s leading entertainment company and a world-class example of a customer-driven enterprise. This achievement would not have been possible without decades of entrepreneurial risk-taking and the commitment of thousands of colleagues, creators and dreamers. For nearly 30 years we have invested to create a dynamic and exciting business that has produced excellent returns for shareholders and has become one of the most admired companies in Europe.
We have provided greater choice and better value for families across Europe, and we have created more than 31,000 jobs across the continent. Today, Sky brings customers better TV than ever before and better entertainment experiences than many ever thought possible.
We are grateful to our exceptional colleagues at Sky for creating this unique and outstanding company and wish them continued success.
Soon-to-be Fox parent company Disney is cool with it. After all, this will reduce the debt Disney incurs in its acquisition of so many of Fox’s assets, which makes sense since what’s the point of owning a minority stake in a company controlled by a direct competitor?
But what will Disney do with all of its savings?
“Disney will expand its considerable investment in the Disney-branded direct-to-consumer offering launching in late 2019 and the new ESPN+ sports streaming service, and will seek to increase investment in Hulu’s content offerings and international distribution,” Disney said during its Wednesday acknowledgment of the Sky sell-off.
“Along with the net proceeds from the divestiture of the RSNs, 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,” said Bob Iger, Disney chairman and CEO, added in the media release.
Disney and Fox each currently hold 30 percent stakes in Hulu. It has been widely speculated that NBC will sell Disney its 30 percent in the popular streaming service? Why? Well, see above where we explained why Disney-Fox just unloaded 39 percent of Sky to the NBC owner.
When reached, a Comcast spokesman declined to comment on this story.