Sky reconsiders Fox offer after Comcast bid

Rupert Murdoch faces competition for Sky from Comcast. Jewel Samad  AFP

USA cable giant Comcast Corp offered £22 billion (Dh113bn) for pay-TV group Sky Plc on Wednesday, beating an agreed takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch's Fox by 16 per cent.

London-based pay TV operator Sky says it is withdrawing its recommendation to shareholders to accept 21st Century Fox's bid in a move that came just moments after Comcast placed a better offer on the table. (CMCSA) announced its pre-conditional superior cash offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Sky plc (BSY.L, SKY.L). Comcast said it would make a legally binding commitment to fund the rolling news channel at at least its current level for a decade.

The proposed combination has been further complicated by Fox's agreement to sell many of its TV and film assets to Disney, including its 39 percent stake in Sky.

Sky shares jumped 3% on news of the offer.

The bid is yet to be given the backing of the Sky board, but Comcast said it was in talks with the Sky Independent Committee "with a view to obtaining a future recommendation of the acquisition".

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Comcast said the acquisition will enhance its free cash flow per share in the first year, excluding one-time transaction-related expenses and, within a reasonable period of time, the company expects that the return on invested capital of the acquisition will exceed the weighted average cost of capital.

The boutique London firm Robey Warshaw advised Comcast on the offer along with the investment banks Evercore and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

And in a bid to head off any competition concerns, the group said it would vow not to acquire any majority stake in any United Kingdom newspapers for five years.

"We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast", CEO Brian Roberts said in the statement. "Sky will be our platform for growth across Europe".

21st Century Fox said in a statement it "remains committed" to its December 2016 bid but added that it was "currently considering its options".

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