Offbeat Sky stock rises as Comcast and Fox lock horns in bid battle

17:33  12 july  2018
17:33  12 july  2018 Source:   reuters.com

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Eritrea Ethiopia set to re-establish diplomatic and trade ties. Point of view. "If there is peace between Ethiopian and Eritrean people, the horn of Africa Comcast and Walt Disney are locked in a separate billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox ’s assets, which would include Sky , and Disney is

LONDON — Comcast formally unveiled a .7 billion takeover bid for Sky on Wednesday, putting the American cable giant squarely in a takeover battle with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for control over the British satellite broadcaster.

Sky shares leaped to an 18-year high Thursday as investors bet a transatlantic battle for the European pay-TV group had further to run, after Comcast's $34 billion bid trumped an offer from Rupert Murdoch made just hours earlier.

Comcast, the world's biggest entertainment group, said on Wednesday it had the backing of Sky's independent directors for a 14.75 pounds-per-share offer that came just 16 hours after Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid 14 pounds.

The speed with which Comcast's Brian Roberts counterbid shows how determined he is to buy Britain's Sky, which broadcasts sports, films and TV shows to 23 million homes across Europe.

Murdoch's Fox trumps Comcast with agreed $32.5 billion bid for Sky

  Murdoch's Fox trumps Comcast with agreed $32.5 billion bid for Sky Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox (FOXA.O) said it had agreed to buy Britain's Sky (SKYB.L) in a deal valuing the pay-TV group at $32.5 billion, trumping a rival offer from U.S. group Comcast (CMCSA.O). The battle for Britain's leading pay-TV group reflects major shifts in the global entertainment industry as the world's biggest media giants battle each other for multi-billion dollar deals to be able to compete with Netflix and Amazon.Fox, which owns 39 percent of Sky and is due to gain British regulatory clearance for the deal this week, upped its offer to 14 pounds per share, from its earlier 10.75 pounds per share.

US cable giant Comcast has launched a bn cash bid for 21st Century Fox 's entertainment businesses, setting up a battle with Disney which has offered bn in stock . In the UK, Disney and Comcast are currently battling to take over Sky plc, the owner of Sky News.

Fox 's new bid values the whole of Sky at £24.5 billion (.5 billion or 27.7 billion euros), beating an offer of £22 billion from US cable giant Comcast for Jameela Jamil and Azealia Banks lock horns in bitter Instagram row as rapper SLAMS presenter for criticising divisive appetite suppressant ad.

Sky's shares rose 2.5 percent Thursday as investors bet the bidders would have to pay more to secure victory.

"This thing has gone from 10 pounds to 15 pounds in seconds, so most people have got vertigo on this one," said Crispin Odey, a top 20 Sky shareholder. "You need a finale at the end of a great bull market and I think Sky is going to be that finale.

"It's got legs."

Sky's shares are up 95 percent since Fox made its first bid in 2016, and have risen 55 percent in the last year.

The fight is part of a bigger battle being waged in the entertainment industry as the rapid growth of Netflix and Amazon force the world's traditional media giants to spend tens of billions of dollars to keep pace.

Comcast and Walt Disney are locked in a separate $70 billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox's assets, which would include Sky, and Disney is backing Murdoch in his pursuit of the British company.

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" Comcast has long admired Sky and believes it is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast ," the company said in a statement released after the US stock Disney hikes bid for Fox assets to .3 billion, tops Comcast . Britain clears path for Murdoch to battle Comcast to get Sky .

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Murdoch already owns 39 percent of Sky, which he helped to launch.

The standoff pits the industry's biggest names against each other, with Roberts, the Murdoch family and Disney's Bob Iger engaged in a multibillion-dollar game of chess to reshape the global entertainment business.

The three are at a tech conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.


Analysts are divided as to who will emerge triumphant.

Jeff Wlodarczak at Pivotal Research Group said Comcast may succeed in winning Sky but lose out on Fox to Disney.

Richard Greenfield at BTIG said, however, he thought Disney needed to buy Sky to secure a direct relationship with customers in Europe so it could sell them its vast range of programming.

"Is Disney willing to let Sky go? Or will they crush Comcast on both continents?" Greenfield said in a note.

"We continue to believe that if Comcast really wants to own Sky, their best way to do it is by acquiring the Fox assets – winner takes-all was always the scenario that appeared most likely to us."

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Sky ’s independent directors welcomed Comcast ’s 12.50 pound per share bid and said they would now engage with both Comcast and Fox . They cautioned that neither bid could yet be put to shareholders and advised them to take no action for now.

Fox 's new bid values the whole of Sky at £24.5 billion (.5 billion or 27.7 billion euros), beating an offer of £22 billion from US cable giant Comcast for the satellite TV The pursuit for Sky is meanwhile further complicated by a battle between Walt Disney and Comcast for key assets of 21st Century Fox .

Shareholders in Fox will vote on Disney's $71 billion bid on July 27.

Comcast, which made a $65 billion all-cash offer for the Fox assets last month only for Disney to raise its bid, would need to return before that date if it is to give investors enough time to consider its bid.

That means the next instalment of this drama is likely to move to the United States

"It's not clear to me that Disney would allow Comcast to get Sky at 14.75 pounds in order to definitively get hold of Fox when they are really in the driving seat," a London-based hedge fund manager with shares in Fox and Sky told Reuters.

A second event-driven fund manager invested in Sky questioned whether Comcast was seeking to force Fox and Disney to do a side deal and sell it some Fox assets in order to end the bidding war.

"For Comcast bidding for the whole of Fox it's now too expensive, so they're focusing their bidding efforts on Sky," the fund manager said on the condition of anonymity.

"And because Murdoch and Disney are determined to take control of Sky, they will have to reach an agreement with Comcast in relation to other Fox assets."

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Stock Screener. The new Fox bid marks the latest salvo in an 18-month takeover battle for Sky . "There’s no way that Disney, nor 21st Century Fox want to let Sky go to Comcast .

Aside from the Sky bid , Comcast – which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures – is also battling with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) for a swathe of assets from Fox itself. Stocks For You To Swing-Trade: $DIS $KBR $PAGP.

In Britain, a 60-day timetable is set in motion once the second of the two bidders has published its offer document, according to rules set by Britain's Takeover Panel.

If there are still two live competing bids by day 46 of the timetable, the Panel typically runs a 5-day auction process to resolve the situation.

For now, investors are waiting to see what Murdoch will do next. Fox released a terse statement late on Wednesday saying it noted Comcast's offer. The group received regulatory approval to buy Sky from the British government on Thursday - almost 20 months after it requested it.

The government had repeatedly delayed its approval for fears that Murdoch, the owner of two of the biggest selling newspapers in Britain, would control too much of the media.

Murdoch helped to launch Sky in 1989, building it up to be Britain's dominant pay-TV provider through its ownership of Premier League soccer, U.S. drama and films. It now offers satellite TV in Ireland, Austria, Italy and Germany, and streaming services in Spain.

His son James is CEO of Fox and chairman of Sky.

"Investors are now close to doubling their money as a result of the bidding war for Sky," Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said.

Cramer expects 'total revaluation' of Comcast and Disney as bidding war for Fox winds down .
Jim Cramer anticipates more gains for shares of Disney and Comcast as the companies' battle over Twenty-First Century Fox's assets comes to a close.With Comcast ending its battle with Disney over Twenty-First Century Fox's assets — but staying in the bidding process for Sky — both Comcast and Disney's stocks are now primed for profit, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday.

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