Comcast, Fox raise bids in escalating takeover battle for Sky

Sky’s jewel in the crown is its live coverage of English Premier League soccer, while the group also provides broadband Internet and telephone services. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Comcast, Fox raise bids in escalating takeover battle for Sky

  • Comcast lifted its bid for Sky to £26 billion ($34.3 billion) only hours after Rupert Murdoch’s Fox boosted its offer for the 61 percent of Sky it does not own
  • Sky’s jewel in the crown is its live coverage of English Premier League soccer, while the group also provides broadband Internet and telephone services

NEW YORK: Comcast raised its bid for pan-European TV group Sky late Wednesday, topping an offer from 21st Century Fox made only hours earlier and escalating a takeover battle as media giants reposition themselves for the streaming era.
Comcast lifted its bid for Sky to £26 billion ($34.3 billion) only hours after Rupert Murdoch’s Fox boosted its offer for the 61 percent of Sky it does not own.
Fox’ latest bid values Sky at £24.5 billion.
The battle for Sky comes as Comcast is also embroiled in a takeover battle with Disney for Fox entertainment assets that are being split off from Murdoch’s empire. Some analysts have said Comcast could drop its bid for the Fox assets if it wins Sky.
Sky’s jewel in the crown is its live coverage of English Premier League soccer, while the group also provides broadband Internet and telephone services.
Media giants such as Disney and Comcast have been looking to beef up their creative offerings to compete with Netflix and other streaming services that are eroding the value of conventional cable television assets.
The latest back-and-forth started Wednesday morning London time when New York-listed Fox raised its offer to £14 for each outstanding share, up substantially on a previous tilt that was pitched at £10.75.
“As the founding shareholder of Sky, we have remained deeply committed to bringing these two organizations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future,” Fox said.
“The enhanced scale and capabilities of the combination will enrich Sky’s ability to continue on its mission for years to come, especially at a time of dynamic change in our industry.”
But only hours later Comcast rebutted the Fox move, releasing a bid after US markets closed of £14.75 per share, about five percent above the Fox proposal.
Comcast said its sweetened offer has been accepted by Sky independent Committee directors.
“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 market closed.
“Today’s announcement further underscores Comcast’s belief and its commitment to owning Sky.”
Fox’s long-running pursuit for all of Sky has been plagued by UK government fears over media plurality and broadcasting standards — and the influence of Australian-born US citizen Murdoch.
Murdoch owns major British newspaper titles The Times and The Sun. Critics say obtaining full control also of the rolling television channel Sky News would give him too much influence in the news business.
To remedy this, Fox has proposed to sell Sky News to Disney.
Disney has gained the upper hand in the battle with Comcast for Fox’s assets, winning US regulatory approval for the transaction and scheduling a July 27 shareholder vote on the proposed $71.3 billion deal.
Still, Comcast has not walked away from trying to overtake the Fox-Disney tie-up.
Assets in the Fox deal include production companies responsible for “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family,” film production businesses and a major stake in the online platform Hulu.
Should Disney’s bid for the Fox assets succeed, it will also obtain Fox’s 39 percent stake in Sky as part of the package.


Drake takes time out of Paris concert to ‘share prayers’ for victims of New Zealand terror attack

Updated 17 March 2019
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Drake takes time out of Paris concert to ‘share prayers’ for victims of New Zealand terror attack

LONDON: Hip-hop superstar Drake shared a message of support for the victims of the New Zealand terror attack during a concert in Paris on Saturday.
The “Hotline Bling” star took time out of his “Vacation Assassination” concert in the French capital to send out prayers for the 50 victims in the Christchurch massacre.
He said: “I saw some really terrible things happened in New Zealand, I just want to talk about it because a lot of my friends and a lot of people I work with are from a Muslim background.

“I want you to know, that when there’s terrible things going on in the world, you know, we can still look around this room tonight and see something beautiful because we’ve got all people of all races, all places, all religions and look, we’re in here showing love tonight.
“So, I want send my love to all the families that were affected. We’re praying for you and will spread more love just like this across the world. Paris, I’m proud of you all tonight. I love you all.”
The white supremacist terrorist responsible for the attack livestreamed 17 minutes of his rampage at the Al-Noor mosque in the city, where he sprayed worshippers with bullets.
Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath.
The second attack took place at the Linwood mosque about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away.