Comcast beat out 21st Century Fox for European paid-TV channel Sky, winning a high-stakes auction Saturday with a bid of £30 billion ($39 billion). This win allows Comcast to put a leading offer to Sky’s shareholders and, if the offer is accepted, to increase its international operations.
Comcast ultimately bid £17.28 per Sky ordinary share versus Fox’s offer of £15.67 per share, which valued Sky at $32 billion. Comcast’s win came after the UK Takeover Panel ordered the auction to end a prolonged stalemate between the two interested companies.
Going into the auction, Comcast had the higher bid on the table, £14.75 per share, versus Fox’s £14. However, only a fraction of Sky’s shareholders voted to go with either offer. The vast majority preferred to wait for even higher bids to come through as the takeover process played itself out.
Following the mandated auction, which played out in one day, both company’s offers will now be put to shareholders, who have until Oct. 11 to vote on them. Sky’s board is expected to issue a recommendation to shareholders shortly.
The auction is a win for Comcast after losing to Disney in the fight for Fox’s entertainment assets this summer. Those assets included Fox’s 39 percent stake in Sky.
Comcast’s international revenue would increase from 9 percent to 25 percent of its overall takings, as the pay-TV service has 23 million paying subscribers across Europe in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Under CEO Jeremy Darroch, Sky has maintained its offering of premium soccer and other sports but also moved into producing original content for TV (Riviera, Britannia) and film. Sky also offers digital products such as SkyQ and the Now TV streaming service.