Sky backs away from Murdoch as Comcast makes £22bn cash bid

Jurassic World produced by Comcast's Hollywood studio Universal

Now Comcast has formally published a Rule 2.7 announcement under the City Code on UK Takeovers and Mergers announcing its pre-conditional cash offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Sky.

Comcast, the owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was delighted to be formalising its offer.

Sky is based in London and has pay-TV operations across Europe, offering a platform for US companies like Comcast and Fox to expand overseas.

Comcast's official bid to buy Sky tops an existing offer from 21st Century Fox, which already owns a 39% stake in Sky. The owner of NBCUniversal has formalized its $31 billion offer for Sky which now leaves the next move up to Disney. It said it is offering GBP12.50 ($17.46) a share for Sky, or 16% more than Fox's GBP10.75-a-share bid.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says his company's cash offer values each Sky share at £12.50, above the 21st Century Fox offer of £10.75.

"A further announcement will be made in due course", it said.

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Sky shares have risen 3.4% to £13.52 on the FTSE 100 following news of the bid.

As The New York Times reports, Comcast has seized upon "Fox's troubles in getting government approval for its bid", with regulators concerned that buying Sky "would give Mr. Murdoch too much control over the country's news media, given his ownership of newspapers like The Times of London and The Sun". It will also establish a Sky News editorial board to ensure the channel's independence, keep the United Kingdom headquarters in Osterley for five years and not acquire any majority interest in British newspapers for five years.

In the interests of transparency, Comcast should be treated the same as Fox and face regulatory scrutiny, said David Puttnam, a lawmaker in the U.K.'s House of Lords who was influential in shaping the regulatory framework for media mergers. The company lost 96,000 video subscribers, compared with an estimate for a 60,800 drop.

Comcast announced that they have put in a superior cash offer of approximately £12.50 per share for a total of £22.0 billion, or almost United States $30.6 million.

Accompanying its offer, Comcast made a number of commitments on how it will run Sky, many of which match pledges previously made by Fox.

The numbers underscore a strategy shift in the USA away from cable-TV viewers and toward the sale of broadband service.

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