Comcast Beats Earnings Estimates, Makes Formal Bid For Sky

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The bid Tuesday puts the Philadelphia cable company in direct conflict with Rupert Murdoch' 21st Century Fox, which wants Sky for itself. It represents a 16pc improvement of Fox's £10.75 per share offer for the 61pc of Sky it does not own, agreed with the company's independent directors in late 2016.

After Comcast lodged its offer, Fox, which already owns 39% of Sky, said it is committed to its bid and it is weighing its options.

Comcast said its cash offer is to buy the remaining 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own.

The cable company also announced its intention to enter into legally binding commitments regarding Sky and investment in the United Kingdom, including for Sky News, the loss-making...

Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, said: "With its 23 million retail customers, leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany, and its history of strong financial performance, we see significant opportunities for growth by combining our businesses".

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Comcast confirmed its bid at £12.50 per share, first mooted in an approach in February, valuing it at £22bn. Sky News is understood to lose around £40m per year. The company now anticipates that the acquisition will complete before the end of 2018.

UK-based Sky, with more than 20 million customers for its sports, entertainment and news channels across Europe, is at the center of a three-way battle for control between Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O), Walt Disney (DIS.N) and Comcast and their veteran bosses. It also proposed to protect media plurality in the United Kingdom by giving a binding post-offer undertaking not to acquire any majority interest in any British newspapers for five years.

A year earlier, Comcast earned 53 cents a share on sales of $20.46 billion.

Sky News has become a flash point in the Fox's bid due to competition fears centring on Mr Murdoch's ownership of The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers.