This is the corporate story that just keeps on providing drama right now. Yes, we are talking again about the proposed acquisition of Fox by Disney. We already know that Disney are once again in the highest bidding position ahead of Fox shareholders planned vote in August and there appears to be no sign yet of Comcast coming in with a third larger offer for the assets of Fox.
However, Comcast have made in independent bid for a controlling stake at Sky. Fox had recently offered to buy out complete control of Sky, but Comcast came in and offered £14.75 per share(UK Sterling), which was way more than Fox’s own offer. However, as reported by Deadline, the Takeover Panel in Britain has now ruled that if the Disney purchase of Fox goes though, they would have to pay £14.00 per share. This would mean that Disney would be able to pick up the shares for almost $2 billion less than Comcast have offered already, confusing, right?
The thing is, this is a complicated scenario, you see Fox already own a non-controlling stake in Sky, they always have done, it was Rupert Murdoch himself that started Sky back in the late 80’s. I worked for Sky for around 10 years and during that time the CEO of Sky was James Murdoch, son of Rupert. So would Comcast only get a controlling stake or would Fox be forced to sell their current shares to Comcast? Hard to say, as corporate finance is not my area of expertise.
Now this ruling could be made completely obsolete anyway, as Fox themselves are planning to up their bid for the Sky shares shortly anyway, in an effort to once again outbid Comcast. Of course, Fox’s plans are very simple, get control of Sky and then immediately sell the whole lot to Disney as part of the Fox sale.
Looking at how events are unfolding I would suggest that it appears as if Murdoch does not want to sell to Comcast and instead sell to Disney. Splitting up the assets and having Sky be a separate option was predicted way back by financial experts as a way to appease Comcast and get them off the tails of the Disney/ Fox deal. But it appears as though Disney really want to get Sky just as much as Comcast do and it also appears as if Rupert Murdoch wants this to happen as well.
Sky is far and away the biggest pay TV service in the UK, the broadcaster has the majority of the biggest sports rights in the UK, earlier access to Hollywood movies and a channel dedicated to showing HBO programming in the UK in the form of Sky Atlantic which is locked away from competitors. Netflix and Amazon Prime however, are really starting to eat into Sky’s market by offering streaming content at much cheaper prices. At this point I would be amazed if Fox didn’t go to Disney, and that of course means good news for Marvel fans looking to see X-Men and Fantastic Four return home to Marvel Studios.
I only wish I had managed to keep a hold of the shares I used to own in the company, but once you were no longer an employee you were forced to sell off your shares, blast it!
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