Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, has announced that they have offered their own bid for Sky which is 16 percent higher than 21st Century Fox’s. 21st Century Fox already owns 39% of the European broadcaster, but has been trying to win the remaining 61% of Sky.
Sky is in many ways a European version of Comcast. It operates a service like Comcast’s X1 and also offers broadband services. Sky also operates several channels (its news channel is one of Europe’s leading) and produces their own programming in addition to agreements with American companies like HBO.
“We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany. Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming. It has great people and a very strong and capable management team,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe. We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s UK headquarters.”
“Adding Sky to the Comcast family of businesses will increase our international revenues from 9% to 25% of Company revenues.”
NBC News has also been embarking on an international expansion of its own. NBC News bought an ownership stake in Euronews and has used that to form NBC News International.
21st Century Fox’s attempt to buy Sky has been bogged down by bureaucratic checks in the United Kingdom. 21st Century Fox passed the government’s “fit and proper” test but was dealt a blow when the Competition and Markets Authority stated that the deal was not in the public interest because of the amount of influence it would place in the Murdoch family. A final government decision is expected later this year.
Adding to the mix is The Walt Disney Company which has announced plans to buy most of 21st Century Fox, although including its stake in Sky. Disney has said that if Fox’s purchase of Sky goes though, it will keep the entire company. However, Disney has also said that it will not make its own play for the remaining 61% if the deal fails.