Comcast (CMCSA.O) beat Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) in the battle for Sky (SKYB.L) after offering more than 30 billion pounds ($39 billion) for the British broadcaster, in a dramatic auction to decide the fate of the pay-television group.
U.S. cable giant Comcast bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 pounds a share offer by Fox, the Takeover Panel said in a statement shortly after final bids were made on Saturday.
Comcast’s final offer was significantly higher than its bid going into the auction of 14.75 pounds, and compares with Sky’s closing share price of 15.85 pounds on Friday.
Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, coveted Sky to expand its international presence as growth slows in its core U.S. market.
Owning Sky will make Comcast the world’s largest pay-TV operator with around 52 million customers.
“This is a great day for Comcast,” Roberts said on Saturday.
“This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”
Comcast, which also owns the NBC network and movie studio Universal Pictures, encouraged Sky shareholders to accept its offer. It said it wanted to complete the deal by the end of October.
Comcast, which require 50 percent plus one share of Sky’s equity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Sky shares in the market.
A spokesman for Fox, which has a 39 percent holding in Sky, declined to comment.
The quick-fire auction marked a dramatic climax to a protracted transatlantic bidding battle waged since February, when Comcast gate-crashed Fox’s takeover of Sky.
It is a blow to 87-year-old media mogul Murdoch and the U.S. media and entertainment group that he controls, which had been trying to take full ownership of Sky since December 2016.
It is also a setback for U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney (DIS.N), which agreed a separate $71 billion deal to buy the bulk of Fox’s film and TV assets, including the Sky stake, in June and would have taken ownership of the British broadcaster following a successful Fox takeover.
($1 = 0.7648 pounds)