Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom Sky Plc https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom Sky Plc RSS feed en Tue, 25 Jun 2019 10:28:36 +0100 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Genera CMS action@proactiveinvestors.com (Proactiveinvestors) action@proactiveinvestors.com (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Sky's contracts with Disney at risk after Comcast takeover ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/208503/sky-s-contracts-with-disney-at-risk-after-comcast-takeover-208503.html Sky PLC’s (LON:SKY) key TV and film contracts with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) could be at risk following the UK broadcaster’s takeover by Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

Sky is set to leave the FTSE 100 this week after Comcast prevailed over Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA) in an auction of the company in September.

READ: James Murdoch steps down from Sky board after Comcast completes takeover

Following the auction, Fox agreed to sell its 39% stake in Sky – that would have gone to Disney as part of a US$71bn deal to sell its entertainment assets – to Comcast.

Disney is launching its own entertainment streaming service, called Disney Play, next year and there are concerns about how it will impact its relationship with Sky given it is in direct competition with Comcast.

Sky’s current film contract with Disney is up for renewal in 2020.

"Disney has aggressively set out its stall as wanting to become a direct-to-consumer player," Berenberg analyst Sarah Simon said, according to The Guardian.

"Disney missed buying Sky and competes with Comcast. Disney now doesn’t have any incentive to renew its programming deals with Sky unless it’s on extremely good financial terms.”

Disney has already said it would pull its content from Netflix as part of its plan to launch Disney Play. The company already has a streaming service for its ESPN sports content but Disney Play will stream entertainment content, including the assets acquired from Fox such as the X-Men films and the Simpsons.

Sky’s talks with Disney over renewing their contract are expected to include discussions about Fox content.

Sources told The Guardian that Sky recently struck content deals with two other major Hollywood studios, which were extensions of existing agreements well ahead of expiry.

The deals suggest Sky was keen to secure prime content ahead of what is expected to be difficult negotiations with Sky.

“Owning Fox gives Disney a huge amount of negotiating muscle,” said Simon. “Disney is in an increasingly clear strategic position: continue to sell content to aggregators or go direct to consumers.”

Sky’s contract with Game of Thrones owner HBO, which is part of AT&T Inc's (NYSE:T.) WarnerMedia, also expires in 2020.

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Mon, 05 Nov 2018 09:57:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/208503/sky-s-contracts-with-disney-at-risk-after-comcast-takeover-208503.html
<![CDATA[News - CMA clears Sky Betting takeover by Canadian peer Stars Group ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206915/cma-clears-sky-betting-takeover-by-canadian-peer-stars-group-206915.html The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has approved a deal for British-based company Sky Betting to be sold to Canadian firm Stars Group in a deal worth US$4.7bn.

Stars will buy Sky Bet, the firm behind the Sky Vegas and Sky Casino brands, creating the largest publicly-listed online gaming company in the world.

READ: UK gambling firm Sky Betting and Gaming to be sold to Canada's Stars Group

The deal was originally announced in April this year, with Stars buying a controlling stake from major shareholders CVC Capital Partners and Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

At the time, Sky said in a statement that it would receive about £425mln in cash and 7.6mln newly issued shares, or about 3% of Stars Group, worth about £145mln. The broadcaster sold 80% of Sky Bet to CVC in 2015.

The deal followed Stars Group’s acquisition of the Australian arm of William Hill plc (LON:WMH) in March after a failed merger attempt with the FTSE 250 betting firm.

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Thu, 11 Oct 2018 15:16:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206915/cma-clears-sky-betting-takeover-by-canadian-peer-stars-group-206915.html
<![CDATA[News - James Murdoch steps down from Sky board after Comcast completes takeover ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206708/james-murdoch-steps-down-from-sky-board-after-comcast-completes-takeover-206708.html Rupert Murdoch's son James has stepped down from the board of Sky PLC (LON:SKY) after Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced it has become the majority owner of the UK broadcaster. 

James Murdoch, who is chief executive of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA), resigned from the board alongside six other directors. 

Comcast said on Tuesday that it had completed the acquisition of Fox's 39% stake in Sky.

Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS), which has agreed to acquire the entertainment assets of Fox, consented to the sale.

Comcast now owns 76.84% of Sky after successfully outbidding Fox in an auction to take over the broadcaster last month.

READ: Fox and Disney to sell shares in Sky to Comcast

The US media giant won the auction for Sky with a £17.28 per share offer, ahead of Fox’s bid of £15.67, valuing Sky at about £27.9bn.

“Led by (Sky CEO) Jeremy Darroch and his superb team -- now together with Comcast -- our combined global leadership in technology and content paves the way for us to accelerate investment and growth in Sky's brand and premier platforms,” said Comcast chairman Brian Roberts on Tuesday.

“We are also fully committed to ensuring Sky News' future, maintaining its editorial independence, and preserving its strong track record for trusted, high quality, impartial news."

Darroch said Sky News will “benefit greatly from Comcast's funding commitments over the coming years and the arrangements that will be put in place to preserve and enhance its editorial independence”.

UK culture minister Jeremey Wright had urged Comcast to ensure the independence of Sky News.

READ: UK culture minister urges Comcast to ensure Sky News independence after takeover

He told the broadcaster: “I’ve left them in no doubt at all about the importance of editorial independence and Sky News, and what we expect not just over the immediate period following the changes to corporate ownership, but in the longer term.”

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Tue, 09 Oct 2018 15:58:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206708/james-murdoch-steps-down-from-sky-board-after-comcast-completes-takeover-206708.html
<![CDATA[News - UK culture minister urges Comcast to ensure Sky News independence after takeover ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206569/uk-culture-minister-urges-comcast-to-ensure-sky-news-independence-after-takeover-206569.html The UK’s culture minister has called on Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to ensure the independence of Sky News following the US media giant’s takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

Comcast bought Sky in a rare auction of the broadcaster last month with an offer of £17.28 per share, outbidding Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) offer of £15.67. The deal valued Sky at about £27.9bn.

READ: Fox and Disney to sell shares in Sky to Comcast

Culture minister Jeremy Wright told Sky News: “I’ve left them in no doubt at all about the importance of editorial independence and Sky News, and what we expect not just over the immediate period following the changes to corporate ownership, but in the longer term.”

Wright added: “We want to make sure they are committed to Sky News in the long term and committed to its editorial independence.”

He said he wanted to make sure Comcast’s previous reassurances about the independence of Sky News were “firmed up”.

Fox, which is in the process of selling itself to Walt Disney Co, agreed to sell its 39% stake in Sky to Comcast after the auction, giving Comcast full control of the UK-based firm.

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Mon, 08 Oct 2018 08:47:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206569/uk-culture-minister-urges-comcast-to-ensure-sky-news-independence-after-takeover-206569.html
<![CDATA[News - Bye bye Sky - Comcast's £30bn acquisition of the satellite broadcaster looks set to close early ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206361/bye-bye-sky-comcast-s-30bn-acquisition-of-the-satellite-broadcaster-looks-set-to-close-early-206361.html Comcast said it expects its £30bn acquisition of Sky (LON:SKY) to complete on October 9, ending one of the most protracted takeover sagas on recent history.

Last week the American media giant agreed to buy a 39% stake in the satellite broadcaster from under-bidder 21st Century Fox.

READ: Comcast drops 21st Century Fox bid to refocus on the pursuit of UK pay-TV firm Sky

It means Comcast, which last week increased its debt to around £21bn to help fund the deal, will hold or have acceptances totalling 75% of Sky’s share capital.

It said previously that it expected the transaction to be concluded by the end of the month.

Comcast's offer of £17.28 a share was £1.61 ahead of Fox's £15.67. In a dramatic end to what was effectively a 21-month, three round process overseen by the Takeover Panel, the two companies were made to submit sealed bids.

Fox, meanwhile, is being gobbled up by Disney for £55bn, and reports suggest this deal could be done and dusted by the year-end – slightly earlier than expected.

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Thu, 04 Oct 2018 07:57:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206361/bye-bye-sky-comcast-s-30bn-acquisition-of-the-satellite-broadcaster-looks-set-to-close-early-206361.html
<![CDATA[News - Comcast completes fourth largest bond sale ever to fund Sky deal ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206313/comcast-completes-fourth-largest-bond-sale-ever-to-fund-sky-deal-206313.html US media giant Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has completed one of the biggest bond sales ever to fund its multi-billion dollar acquisition of Britain’s Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

Comcast sold US$27bn of unsecured bonds in 12 parts and was able to cut the cost of its sale as investors put in orders for around US$88bn of the debt.

READ: Clash of the (media) titans: What drove the Fox, Comcast, Disney bidding war over Sky?

It follows a protracted battle for Europe’s largest satellite broadcaster. Comcast won the war last month by outbidding Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) in an auction process instigated in September by the UK's takeover panel with a knockout bid of 1,728p per share, valuing the company at US$39bn (£30bn).

Fox, which is in the process of selling itself to Walt Disney Co, sold its 39% stake in Sky to Comcast after the auction, giving Comcast full control of the UK-based firm. Comcast's offer was significantly higher than Fox's bid of 1,567p per share.

The bond sale is the fourth largest in corporate history behind issues from CVS Health Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV.

By owning all of Sky, Comcast’s debt is expected to almost double to US$114bn.

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Wed, 03 Oct 2018 14:48:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/206313/comcast-completes-fourth-largest-bond-sale-ever-to-fund-sky-deal-206313.html
<![CDATA[News - Comcast to end Sky share purchases in the market after taking controlling stake ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205896/comcast-to-end-sky-share-purchases-in-the-market-after-taking-controlling-stake-205896.html Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) will stop buying Sky PLC’s (LON:SKY) shares in the market after taking a 38% stake in the UK broadcaster at a weekend auction and a further 39% holding from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA).

On Saturday Comcast outbid Rupert Murdoch’s Fox in an auction for a 38% stake in Sky. The US cable company offered £17.28 per share, which was £1.61 ahead of Fox's bid of £15.67, valuing Sky at about £27.9bn.

Separately, Comcast will also buy Fox’s 39% interest in Sky, which would have gone to Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) as part of the Mickey Mouse creator’s US$71bn acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets.

READ: Fox and Disney to sell shares in Sky to Comcast

Disney decided to sell the Sky holding rather than remain a minority shareholder, paving the way for Comcast to take a controlling interest of 51%.

Comcast will issue the offer document on Thursday. Shareholders will then be able to tender their shares in the normal way up until October 11. 

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Thu, 27 Sep 2018 15:14:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205896/comcast-to-end-sky-share-purchases-in-the-market-after-taking-controlling-stake-205896.html
<![CDATA[News - Fox and Disney to sell shares in Sky to Comcast ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205890/fox-and-disney-to-sell-shares-in-sky-to-comcast-205890.html Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:27:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205890/fox-and-disney-to-sell-shares-in-sky-to-comcast-205890.html <![CDATA[News - Sky bobs higher as Comcast reveals 30% holding after making market purchases, makes offer mandatory ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205657/sky-bobs-higher-as-comcast-reveals-30-holding-after-making-market-purchases-makes-offer-mandatory-205657.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) saw its shares bob higher on Tuesday as Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA), the victor at the weekend of a sealed-bid auction for the pay-TV firm revealed it now owns 30% of the FTSE 100-listed firm’s shares after making purchases in the market.

The crossing of the 30% threshold means that the US cable giant’s £30.6bn (US$40bn) bid for Sky now becomes mandatory, meaning the firm must offer to buy out other investors at its offer price of 1,728p per share.

READ: Sky set to be acquired by Comcast for £30.6bn after Fox trumped in sealed-bid auction

Comcast’s bid beat a 1,567p a share offer from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) in the rare auction held over the weekend run by the UK Takeover Panel following an epic takeover battle which began with an initial approach from Fox in December 2016.

Fox holds a 39% stake in Sky, stemming from Murdoch’s role in its creation nearly three decades ago, which it is in the process of selling to Walt Disney Corp (NYSE:DIS) as part of a separate US$71bn deal to buy most of the firm’s film and TV assets,

Neither Fox nor Disney have said what they intend to do with the big Sky stake.

Comcast’s winning bid quickly received the backing of Sky’s independent directors on Saturday who urged shareholders to accept it immediately.

In a statement announcing the mandatory offer on Tuesday, Comcast said it would continue to make market purchases of Sky shares at the bid price.

In early afternoon trading on Tuesday, Sky shares were up 0.3% to 1,726p.

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Tue, 25 Sep 2018 14:14:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205657/sky-bobs-higher-as-comcast-reveals-30-holding-after-making-market-purchases-makes-offer-mandatory-205657.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky set to be acquired by Comcast for £30.6bn after Fox trumped in sealed-bid auction ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205479/sky-set-to-be-acquired-by-comcast-for-306bn-after-fox-trumped-in-sealed-bid-auction-205479.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) looks set to be acquired by Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) for £30.6bn (US$40bn) after the US cable giant beat Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) in the epic battle for the satellite broadcaster following a dramatic auction on Saturday.

Comcast bid 1,728p a share for control of the FTSE 100-listed firm, trumping a 1,567p-a-share offer by Fox, the UK Takeover Panel announced, following a rare sealed-bid auction.

READ: ‘Sealed bids’ auction for Sky draws near as investors hold out for more money

The US firm’s final offer was a big jump on its bid going into the auction of 1,475p, and Fox’s offer of 1,400p, and compares with Sky’s closing share price on Friday of 1,585p. In early trading on Monday, Sky shares rose 8.6% to just below the Comcast final bid price at 1,721.50p.

The final offer - more than double Sky’s share price before Fox made an initial approach in December 2016 - won the backing of Sky’s independent directors on Saturday.

In an RNS statement on Monday, Sky said: “As the price of the Comcast Offer is materially superior, it is in the best interests of all Sky shareholders to accept the Comcast Offer.

“Accordingly, the Independent Committee unanimously recommends that Sky shareholders accept the Comcast Offer, and in order to ensure the successful closing of the Comcast Offer, and given the possibility of a delisting of Sky in the near future, urges shareholders to accept immediately.”

"Excellent outcome for Sky shareholders"

Martin Gilbert, Chairman of the Independent Committee of Sky, said today: "We consider the Comcast Offer to be an excellent outcome for Sky shareholders, and we are recommending it as it represents materially superior value.

“We are focused on drawing this process to a successful and swift close and therefore urge shareholders to accept the recommended Comcast Offer.”

Comcast, which requires 50% plus one share of Sky’s equity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Sky shares in the market.

Fox noted the recommendation, saying it was considering options for its 39% stake in Sky and would make another announcement in due course.

Walt Disney Corp (NYS:DIS) has agreed a separate US$71bn deal to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its existing stake in Sky, and would have taken full ownership after a successful takeover of the UK firm by Fox.

In a note to clients on Monday, analysts at Liberum Capital commented: "While Fox does not have to accept Comcast’s bid for its 39% stake, we think it will sell, leaving Comcast with 100% control. The deal may also be the catalyst for other deals although maybe not in the short-term."

Liberum raised its target price for Sky shares to the Comcast bid level of 1,728p, up from 1,400p previously and repeated a 'hold' stance on the stock.

 -- Adds Sky statement, share price, analyst comment --

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Sun, 23 Sep 2018 18:44:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205479/sky-set-to-be-acquired-by-comcast-for-306bn-after-fox-trumped-in-sealed-bid-auction-205479.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky is not the limit, says UBS, as it downgrades the pay-TV giant to neutral ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205235/sky-is-not-the-limit-says-ubs-as-it-downgrades-the-pay-tv-giant-to-neutral-205235.html Sooner or later, the time is right to sit on the fence and that’s the position adopted by UBS on takeover target Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

The Swiss bank has increased its price target to 1,600p from 1,500p but that has not stopped it from downgrading the satellite TV pioneer to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ following the two-thirds increase in the share price over the last year.

‘READ: 'Sealed bids’ auction for Sky draws near as investors hold out for more money

The meteoric rise was sparked by the bidding battle for the pay-TV, internet service provider and telecoms giant between Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

“Sky shares are already trading above the 1475p offer price from Comcast and we think the shares are pricing in a relatively high probability that Disney/Fox will return with a higher offer,” UBS declared.

The Swiss bank thinks Sky is strategically valuable to both Fox (and its fellow traveller Disney) and Comcast. Both have until September 22 (Saturday) to revise their offers but UBS thinks the most likely outcome will be an auction triggered by the UK Takeover Panel.

READ: Sky could be up for auction if Takeover Panel intervenes in Comcast-Fox bidding war

The Takeover Panel rarely uses its authority to launch auctions in takeover situations. There have been just three auctions handled by the regulator since 2007, including the £6.2bn sale of steel-maker Corus to India’s Tata Steel.

An increase in the Sky offer price to UBS’s target price of 1,600p would only have a minimal impact on the gearing of either bidder - increasing leverage by 0.1x for either bidder.

Media control: The Conservative govt refuses to allow anyone to purchase Sky plc (Sports, Cable TV, news, broadband, etc) unless it "preserves the editorial independence of Sky News", ie you can't turn it into a US-style Fox News so the British people can get a pro-Brexit channel

— David Vance (@DVATW) September 19, 2018

“The Comcast offer is 1475p and we think investors see upside of 1,600-1,700p if an auction ensues. At a mid-point of 1650p for the upside, the current share price implies a c60% probability that Disney/Fox will counter Comcast with a higher offer,” UBS said, having done some calculations on the back of an envelope.

Its stand-alone valuation for Sky is 1,342p-1,363p but it sees merger synergies of 187p-261p, assuming Sky shareholders receive a 60% share of the enlarged group, giving a valuation range of 1,528p-1,625p.

pls buy sky plc and stop disney @comcast

— cris ???? (@faketalesoflove) September 19, 2018 ]]>
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 13:57:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205235/sky-is-not-the-limit-says-ubs-as-it-downgrades-the-pay-tv-giant-to-neutral-205235.html
<![CDATA[News - ‘Sealed bids’ auction for Sky draws near as investors hold out for more money ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205118/sealed-bids-auction-for-sky-draws-near-as-investors-hold-out-for-more-money-205118.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) shareholders are holding out for another bid from either Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) or Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), with very few having accepted one of the two offers currently on the table.

As of yesterday, only shareholders representing 0.07% of Sky had opted to accept a 1,400p bid from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, while 0.29% had agreed to sell their shares to Comcast, which has offered 1,475p.

READ: Sky could go up for auction

Both of those offers are to remain open for acceptances until October 6, but with Sky shares currently at 1,575p and no mention from either party that these are their final bids, investors look to be anticipating at least one more offer.

According to reports, a number of high-profile hedge funds such as Paul Singer’s Elliott Management and Odey Asset Management are among those sitting on their hands and waiting.

Under UK takeover rules, Fox and Comcast have until September 22 to make a best and final bid or confirm that they have already gone as high as they are prepared to.

If neither does that, a ‘sealed bids’ auction process will be triggered, something which has only happened a handful of times before.

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Tue, 18 Sep 2018 10:06:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205118/sealed-bids-auction-for-sky-draws-near-as-investors-hold-out-for-more-money-205118.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky invests US$2mln in US-based content supply chain solutions provider SDVI ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204633/sky-invests-us2mln-in-us-based-content-supply-chain-solutions-provider-sdvi-204633.html FTSE 100 pay-TV firm Sky PLC (LON:SKY) has invested US$2mln in SDVI, a US-based content supply chain management firm located in Silicon Valley.

The company, which also counts media giant 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) among its shareholders, provides a cloud-based service that helps media companies manage resources and applications across their content supply chains, as well as analytics software which Sky says would allow its customers to transform the use of technical infrastructure and drive end-to-end improvements in efficiency.

READ: Sky could be up for auction if Takeover Panel intervenes in Comcast-Fox bidding war

The investment in SDVI comes the same month as Sky’s US$4mln investment in Israeli venture capital firm Reimagine Ventures, which specifically targets technology startups, and is its 20th investment in a startup over the last six years, with recipient companies including streaming device maker Roku, cloud video platform 1Mainstream, and The Drone Racing League.

Emma Lloyd, Sky’s group director of business development and partnerships, said the deal showed the companies’ ambition to invest in “pioneering and disruptive emerging technologies” that can enhance its customer offering, adding that it provided an opportunity to “gain insights” from a “leading provider of supply chain management”.

The move comes amid a trend among large media companies to shift content toward streaming and online mediums and away from TV to compete with the likes of streaming giant Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) and the video arm of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Sky itself is also the target of an ongoing bidding war between media giants Fox (which owns 39% of Sky) and Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) for control of the broadcaster and most of its assets.

In lunchtime trading Tuesday, Sky shares were up 0.2% at 1,547.5p.

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Tue, 11 Sep 2018 12:52:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204633/sky-invests-us2mln-in-us-based-content-supply-chain-solutions-provider-sdvi-204633.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky could be up for auction if Takeover Panel intervenes in Comcast-Fox bidding war ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203905/sky-could-be-up-for-auction-if-takeover-panel-intervenes-in-comcast-fox-bidding-war-203905.html The UK’s takeover regulator could use its power to instigate a formal auction process for Sky PLC (LON:SKY) to end the bidding war for the broadcaster between Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA).

The Takeover Panel rarely uses its authority to launch auctions in takeover situations. There have been just three auctions handled by the regulator since 2007, including the £6.2bn sale of steelmaker Corus to India’s Tata Steel.

Comcast has offered £14.75 per share for Sky, valuing the broadcaster at £25.9bn, compared to Fox’s bid of £14.0 per share for 61% of the company that it does not already own.

The offer period for Comcast’s offer is open until September 12 while Sky shareholders have until September 17 to accept Fox’s proposal.

READ: Comcast extends offer period for Sky amid bidding war with Fox

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Comcast both have until September 22 to revise their current bids but if neither party has bowed out by then, the regulator can step in and start an auction.

The Panel has declined to comment.

Fox first launched a bid of £10.75 per share for Sky in December 2016 but the deal was held up by UK regulators and lawmakers over concerns about giving the Murdoch family too much power and influence over British media.

Comcast confirmed a higher takeover proposal for Sky in April, leading the broadcast to withdraw its recommendation for the Fox offer.

Sky’s independent directors have recommended shareholders back Comcast's current bid.

At the time of writing, Sky’s shares were trading at £15.42 each.  

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Thu, 30 Aug 2018 14:54:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203905/sky-could-be-up-for-auction-if-takeover-panel-intervenes-in-comcast-fox-bidding-war-203905.html
<![CDATA[News - Comcast extends offer period for Sky amid bidding war with Fox ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203458/comcast-extends-offer-period-for-sky-amid-bidding-war-with-fox-203458.html Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has extended the acceptance period for its £25.9bn cash offer for Sky PLC (LON:SKY) after receiving a low level of acceptance from the British broadcaster's shareholders.

Comcast received valid acceptances for shares representing just 0.21% of Sky as shareholders hold out for a better deal amid a bidding war with 21st Century Fox’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) for the broadcaster. 

The offer period for Comcast's £14.75 per share bid to buy 61% of Sky will now remain open for acceptances until September 12.

Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, gatecrashed Fox's attempt to buy Sky earlier this year.

READ: 21st Century Fox posts formal offer document for Sky takeover bid

Sky’s board had originally backed Fox’s offer of £14.0 per share but withdrew its support after Comcast increased its bid in July.

For the Fox offer, which values Sky at £24.5bn, Sky shareholders have until September 17 to accept.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox has until September 22 to revise its current offer for Sky, which represents a 5% discount to Comcast's current offer.

Fox first launched its bid to buy the rest of the share in Sky it does not already own in December 2016 but the acquisition was held up by UK regulators over concerns about giving the Murdoch family too much power and influence over British media.

Comcast confirmed a takeover proposal for Sky in April.

Separately, Fox has agreed to sell its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) for US$71bn. Comcast had tabled a US$65bn deal to buy Fox in June but pulled out of competing with Disney a month later to focus its efforts on buying Sky. 

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Thu, 23 Aug 2018 08:27:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203458/comcast-extends-offer-period-for-sky-amid-bidding-war-with-fox-203458.html
<![CDATA[News - 21st Century Fox posts formal offer document for Sky takeover bid ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202467/21st-century-fox-posts-formal-offer-document-for-sky-takeover-bid-202467.html 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) has posted an offer document and form of acceptance for its 1,400p offer to buy FTSE 100 pay-TV broadcaster Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

The document effectively formalises a proposed bid by the media giant in July, although Fox now intends to implement its acquisition by way of a takeover offer rather than a scheme of arrangement and will be conditional on 75% or more of Sky’s shareholders accepting the offer.

READ: 21st Century Fox given until Thursday night to increase bid for Sky

The proposal also extends the deadline for a revised offer document to 22 September, relieving some pressure on Fox after the UK’s takeover panel confirmed on Tuesday that the company had until Thursday night to increase its offer if it wanted to outbid rival media conglomerate Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

Despite the formalisation, the offer still lags behind Comcast’s bid, which currently offers 1,475p per share for the 61% of the broadcaster not currently owned by Fox.

Sky said it had received the offer document and that its independent committee would respond within 14 days.

In mid-morning trading Wednesday, Sky shares were up 0.3% at 1,525p.

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Wed, 08 Aug 2018 09:51:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202467/21st-century-fox-posts-formal-offer-document-for-sky-takeover-bid-202467.html
<![CDATA[News - 21st Century Fox given until Thursday night to increase bid for Sky ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202385/21st-century-fox-given-until-thursday-night-to-increase-bid-for-sky-202385.html 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX), owned by media giant Rupert Murdoch, has until Thursday night to increase its offer for Sky PLC (LON:SKY) if it wants to outbid rival Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

The deadline, enforced by takeover rules, means the media giant will have just days to trump Comcast’s £25.9bn bid for a 61% stake in the FTSE 100 pay-TV broadcaster that was submitted last month and backed by Sky’s board.

READ: UK Takeover Panel confirms Walt Disney would have to offer at least 1,400p a share to buy satellite TV broadcaster Sky

The development is the latest in a series of twists in what has been a struggle between three of the world’s largest media corporations, Fox, Comcast and Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS).

Comcast previously backed away from a separate pursuit of several entertainment assets that were put on sale by Fox, putting it into direct competition with Disney, while the House of Mouse has yet to decide whether it will join the fray for the 61% stake in Sky not already owned by Fox.

In mid-afternoon trading Tuesday, Sky shares were up 0.2% at 1,519p, a nearly 3% premium on Comcast’s latest bid price of 1,475p.

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Tue, 07 Aug 2018 14:10:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202385/21st-century-fox-given-until-thursday-night-to-increase-bid-for-sky-202385.html
<![CDATA[News - UK Takeover Panel confirms Walt Disney would have to offer at least 1,400p a share to buy satellite TV broadcaster Sky ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202226/uk-takeover-panel-confirms-walt-disney-would-have-to-offer-at-least-1400p-a-share-to-buy-satellite-tv-broadcaster-sky-202226.html Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) would have to offer at least 1,400p a share to buy satellite TV broadcaster Sky PLC (LON:SKY) the UK’s takeover regulator confirmed on Friday.

In a statement on its website, the Takeover Panel said that a review had confirmed its initial ruling on 13 July 2018 of the level of a possible mandatory Disney offer for Sky.

READ: Sky bid saga continues as satellite broadcaster agrees to increased £24.5bn Fox offer

The panel’s hearings committee subsequently examined that decision on July 27 after the regulator said that "various interested parties affected by the ruling" had asked for a review.

However, Disney would only be forced to make such an offer if it completes a deal to buy Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's (NASDAQ:FOX) TV and film assets, which include a 39% stake in Sky, before either Fox or rival suitor Comcast Inc (NASDAQ:CMCSA) have managed to take control of the FTSE 100-listed broadcaster.

The outcome of that bid battle is still in the balance, with Sky last month agreeing to a Comcast cash offer pitched at 1,475p per share, which trumped Sky’s previously agreed bid of 1,400p a share, an increase from its initial 1,075p a share offer pitched in December 2016 which became mired in a regulatory clearance battle only completed last month.

Sky’s share price still seems to indicate that there could be a further twist in the bid saga, with the stock changing hands at 1.513.50p each in late trading on Friday.

READ: Disney shareholders give the green light for its acquisition of Fox’s entertainment division

In June, Disney launched a US$71.3bn offer for Twentieth Century Fox’s film and TV assets as well as the US cable networks and regional sports channels, trumping a US$65bn deal tabled by Comcast earlier that month.

Disney looks set to win that battle having got approval already from shareholders and US anti-trust authorities, although further regulatory approval is still required.

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Fri, 03 Aug 2018 16:11:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202226/uk-takeover-panel-confirms-walt-disney-would-have-to-offer-at-least-1400p-a-share-to-buy-satellite-tv-broadcaster-sky-202226.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky reports strong full-year performance as bidding war rages on ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/201618/sky-reports-strong-full-year-performance-as-bidding-war-rages-on-201618.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) has reported a strong uplift in earnings and customer numbers in what could be its last set of full-year results as an independent company amid a bidding war over the broadcaster.

The FTSE 100 pay-TV group reported underlying earnings (EBITDA) for the full-year of £2.1bn, up from £1.9bn the year before, while like-for-like revenues climbed for the 29th consecutive year to £13.5bn from £12.9bn in 2017.

READ: UK Takeover Panel rules Disney would need to make minimum bid of 1,400p per share for Sky

The company also reported customer growth of 39% in the fourth quarter of its last financial year, taking the total number of European households using Sky to over 23mln, while its product portfolio saw growth of 81% in the same period.

The news will be likely to drive even more fierce competition in the bidding war that is currently still raging over the company between media giants Comcast, 21st Century Fox, and Disney.

While Fox, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, currently owns 39% of Sky but has been trying to purchase the remaining 61% since 201 but has been continuously scrutinised by UK regulators for its potential impact on Murdoch’s influence in British media.

Sky’s group chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, hailed an “exceptional year” for the company, adding that the group had upgraded its services in Germany and Austria in order to sustain long-term growth in the largest European TV markets.

Commenting on the results and their potential impact on the bidding war, David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said a takeover by Disney could be beneficial for Sky given the corporation’s “enormous back catalogue of content”, while Comcast’s decision to drop its bid for Fox’s assets to focus on Sky “underlines how serious they are”.

Although, he added that Sky should be wary of getting into bed with Comcast as the corporation didn’t “have the best reputation when it comes to customer service”.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, also commented: "[B]y stepping away from the Fox deal, Comcast will be able to reach deeper into its pockets if a bidding war escalates. That will serve as a deterrent to Disney, even if it is loath to lose out on the access to European markets that Sky promises, particularly to a direct rival like Comcast.

Khalaf added that the outcome may result in Disney taking the Fox media assets while Comcast takes the majority stake in Sky, as while Sky's shareholders believe "a better offer will be forthcoming...[Disney's] appetite for acquisitions may be sated".

In early trading Thursday, Sky shares were down 0.1% at 1,505p.

--Adds analyst comment and share price--

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Thu, 26 Jul 2018 08:25:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/201618/sky-reports-strong-full-year-performance-as-bidding-war-rages-on-201618.html
<![CDATA[News - UK Takeover Panel rules Disney would need to make minimum bid of 1,400p per share for Sky ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200763/uk-takeover-panel-rules-disney-would-need-to-make-minimum-bid-of-1400p-per-share-for-sky-200763.html There was yet another twist in the long-running takeover saga for Sky PLC (LON:SKY) on Friday.

The UK Takeover Panel ruled that The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) would need to make a minimum bid of 1,400p per share for Sky if it succeeds in its bid to buy Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX), which owns a 39% stake in the satellite broadcaster and is in a bid battle with Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) for the UK firm.

READ: Sky up as investors bet Comcast's raised bid won’t be the last move in the battle with Fox

On Thursday, the UK government formally approved Fox’s bid for the FTSE 100-listed firm which it had conditional approved last month, as long as Sky News is sold off to a “suitable third party”.

That clearance followed Fox’s move on Wednesday to up its offer for Sky to 1,400p a share, well above its initial 1,075p per share agreed bid launched in December 2016 before the company got embroiled in a takeover probe.

That increased offer was trumped later the same day by a raised bid of 1,475p a share from Comcast which Sky’s independent directors said they would recommend to shareholders, having previously backed Fox’s increased offer.

Sky plans to request that the Takeover Panel’s hearings committee be convened in order to review this ruling, while Disney and Fox are considering their positions, the Panel said in a statement.

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Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:46:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200763/uk-takeover-panel-rules-disney-would-need-to-make-minimum-bid-of-1400p-per-share-for-sky-200763.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky up as investors bet Comcast's raised bid won’t be the last move in the battle with Fox ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200668/sky-up-as-investors-bet-comcast-s-raised-bid-wont-be-the-last-move-in-the-battle-with-fox-200668.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) shares jumped again on Thursday as investors bet that last night’s increased offer from Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) which trumped a raised bid from rival 21 Century Fox Inc.'s (NASDAQ:FOXA) earlier on Wednesday won’t be the last move in the long-running bid saga.

In late afternoon trading in London on Thursday, the FTSE 100-listed firm’s shares were 2.7% higher at 1,534.5p, comfortably above the agreed Comcast cash offer pitched at 1,475p per share, and Sky’s previously agreed bid of 1,400p a share, which finally got approval from the UK government today.

READ: Sky bid saga continues as satellite broadcaster agrees to increased £24.5bn Fox offer

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown commented: “Red letter days are coming thick and fast for Sky shareholders. Investors are now close to doubling their money as a result of the bidding war for Sky, and there may yet be another twist in this tale which will swell their coffers even more.”

Overall, Comcast’s new offer values the satellite broadcaster at £25.9bn, topping Fox’s bid of £24.5bn.

Comcast said its new cash offer has been recommended by Sky’s independent committee of directors and that it has committed financing required for the deal.

The US company - - which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures - also said it has received regulatory approvals in the EU, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Jersey and expects to complete the acquisition before the end of October 2018.

READ: Clash of the (media) titans: What is driving the Fox, Comcast, Disney bidding war over Sky?

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, which already owns a 39% stake in Sky, had seen its increased offer also recommended by Sky’s independent committee of directors.

Fox initially launched a 1,075p per share agreed bid to buy Sky in December 2016.

However, the around £19bn takeover bid was then embroiled in a takeover probe until June this year when the UK government conditionally approved the deal as long as the Sky News business is sold off to a “suitable third party”.

On Thursday, however, the UK government finally cleared the Fox bid for Sky, with culture secretary Jeremy Wright saying: "It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21st Century Fox's bid.”

In a response statement, Sky said it welcomed the culture secretary’s comments that this now marks the final stage of the public interest consideration of this case.

The group added: “21CF's offer for Sky has now cleared its outstanding regulatory pre-conditions.  This follows the satisfaction by Comcast on 15 June 2018 of its outstanding regulatory pre-conditions, meaning both offers for Sky are now capable of being put formally to Sky Shareholders.”

Wright's predecessor Matt Hancock said last month that Fox's proposal to sell Sky News to The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) or to an alternative buyer, was likely to be the best remedy to assuage concerns about the extent of Murdoch's influence over the media in Britain.

But, by then, Sky had pulled its recommendation for Fox’s initial offer after Comcast swooped in with a £22bn bid in April.

Fox bid situation

Aside from the Sky bid, Comcast - which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures – is also battling with Walt Disney for a swathe of assets from Fox itself.

Last month, Disney launched a US$71.3bn offer for the assets, which include the Twentieth Century Fox film and TV studio as well as the US cable networks and regional sports channels, trumping a US$65bn deal tabled by Comcast earlier in June.

Not up for sale are Fox News, Fox Sports 1, the Fox broadcast network or its television stations, which - irrespective of who eventually wins – will be spun off into a new company, for the moment, dubbed New Fox.

Hargreaves’ Khalaf said: “Of course, it’s not only Sky which is on their radar, 21st Century Fox is itself the subject of a bidding war between the two media giants, with Disney currently in pole position. Disney has offered $38 a share for Fox, though the current Fox share price of $47.50 suggests the market thinks Comcast hasn’t thrown in the towel just yet.”

He added: “There is the question of whether Disney and Comcast are paying over the odds for Sky, after all, no matter how many synergies and strategic benefits you can wring out of a takeover, it’s hard to see how you can double the value of the acquired company.

“However, Sky investors won’t worry too much about that. There may or may not be a further chapter in this story, but either way there’s a pretty happy ending for Sky shareholders.”

However, analysts at Macquarie seem to believe that Comcast could have won the day, as they have reportedly cut their rating for Sky today to ‘neutral’ from ‘outperform’, with the Australian bank keeping a 1,450p price target on the stock.

In early New York trading, Fox shares were 0.4% lower at US$47.21, while Comcast added 1.1% at US$34.14, and Disney was up 0.8% at US$108.83.

 -- Adds US share prices; Sky response to UK government Fox bid clearance --

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Thu, 12 Jul 2018 09:02:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200668/sky-up-as-investors-bet-comcast-s-raised-bid-wont-be-the-last-move-in-the-battle-with-fox-200668.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky bid saga continues as satellite broadcaster agrees to increased £24.5bn Fox offer ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200553/sky-bid-saga-continues-as-satellite-broadcaster-agrees-to-increased-245bn-fox-offer-200553.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) has seen the latest shot fired in its long-running bid saga, with Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) confirming the satellite broadcaster has agreed to recommend its increased £24.5bn offer to shareholders.

Fox’s new cash bid of 1,400p a share tops a 1,250p per share offer from rival Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

READ: UK government approves Fox's takeover of Sky as long as it agrees to sell off Sky News

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox initially launched a 1,075p per share agreed bid to buy Sky – of which it already owns 39% - in December 2016.

However, the around £19bn takeover bid was then embroiled in a takeover probe until June this year when the UK government approved the deal as long as the Sky News business is sold off to a “suitable third party”.

But Sky had pulled its recommendation for Fox’s initial offer in April after Comcast swooped in with its improved £22bn bid.

With Sky’s current share price at 1,483p, down 1.2% on yesterday's close above 1,500p, its shareholders could still be betting that even more bids could be forthcoming.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown commented: “Fox coming back in for Sky isn’t a surprise in itself, but the fact the offer is slightly behind what some had anticipated brings another twist.

“In fact, there’s every chance it might entice another counter from Comcast. That might explain why the shares still trade above the latest offer price.”

Fox bid situation

Aside from the Sky bid, Comcast - which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures – is also battling with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) for a swathe of assets from Fox itself.

Last month Disney launched a US$71.3bn offer for the assets, which include the Twentieth Century Fox film and TV studio as well as the US cable networks and regional sports channels, trumping a US$65bn deal tabled by Comcast earlier in June.

Not up for sale are Fox News, Fox Sports 1, the Fox broadcast network or its television stations, which - irrespective of who eventually wins – will be spun off into a new company, for the moment, dubbed New Fox.

 -- Adds share price, analyst comment --

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Wed, 11 Jul 2018 07:55:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200553/sky-bid-saga-continues-as-satellite-broadcaster-agrees-to-increased-245bn-fox-offer-200553.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky higher on report Fox preparing new £25bn bid to top Comcast’s offer for the satellite broadcaster ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200471/sky-higher-on-report-fox-preparing-new-25bn-bid-to-top-comcasts-offer-for-the-satellite-broadcaster-200471.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) shares rose on Tuesday after the Financial Times reported that Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) is preparing to make a new £25bn bid to top the offer the satellite broadcaster has received from Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

The newspaper said Fox’s offer for Sky is expected to be at a premium to Comcast’s most recent bid of 1,250p per share.

READ: UK government approves Fox's takeover of Sky as long as it agrees to sell off Sky News

The US company could make the new offer as soon as this week, the FT added, if its earlier bid for Sky is formally approved by the UK government.

With Sky’s current share price at 1,490.5p, up 1.5% on Monday’s close, shareholders are betting that more even bids could be forthcoming.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox initially launched a 1,075p per share, around £19bn bid to buy up all of Sky in December 2016, with the takeover then embroiled in a UK takeover probe until this June when the UK government approved the deal as long as Sky News is sold off to a “suitable third party”..

Sky pulled its recommendation for Fox’s offer to buy the 61% stake it does not already own in the broadcaster after Comcast swooped in with its improved £22bn bid in April.

Fox bid situation

Aside from the Sky bid, Comcast - which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures – is also battling with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) for a swathe of assets from Fox itself.

Last month Disney launched a US$71.3bn offer for the assets, which include the Twentieth Century Fox film and TV studio as well as the US cable networks and regional sports channels, trumping a US$65bn deal tabled by Comcst earlier in June.

Not up for sale are Fox News, Fox Sports 1, the Fox broadcast network or its television stations, which - irrespective of who eventually wins – will be spun off into a new company, for the moment, dubbed New Fox.

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Tue, 10 Jul 2018 10:46:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200471/sky-higher-on-report-fox-preparing-new-25bn-bid-to-top-comcasts-offer-for-the-satellite-broadcaster-200471.html
<![CDATA[News - Walt Disney ups earnings forecasts for Sky while hedge funds pressure regulator to up bid price ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/199674/walt-disney-ups-earnings-forecasts-for-sky-while-hedge-funds-pressure-regulator-to-up-bid-price-199674.html Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) has upped its 2020-2028 underlying earnings (EBITDA) forecasts for Sky PLC (LON:SKY), while hedge funds with shares in the FTSE 100 pay-TV group are pressuring UK regulators to increase the ‘floor price’ for takeover bids.

In the latest twist in what has become a bidding war over Sky and parts of its largest shareholder, 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Disney said in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it expected Sky to make earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation of £3.06bn in the year ending June 30 2020, up from its original forecast of £2.41bn.

READ: Sky shares rise after Disney US$88bn bid for 21st Century Fox

However, the media company also lowered its 2019 profit forecast for Sky, cutting its estimates to £2.51bn from £2.61bn.

While Disney didn’t give a reason for the upgraded forecasts, Sky secured the TV rights for England's Premier League at a lower-than-expected price in February, which made analysts increase their earnings expectations for the company.

Meanwhile, hedge funds with holdings in Sky are asking UK regulators to set a higher ‘floor price’ (minimum required bid) for the group following the increased earnings forecasts from Disney, which they see as a sign the valuation of the company has increased.

READ: Clash of the (media) titans: What is driving the Fox, Comcast, Disney bidding war over Sky?

Sky is currently at the centre of a bidding war between three of the world’s biggest media companies, Disney, Fox, and Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA), all vying for control of the broadcaster as well as a package of other film and TV assets owned by Fox that it has put up for sale.

While the Fox takeover of Sky and the Fox asset purchase by Disney were initially seen as straightforward, a bid by Comcast for both the non-Fox owned Sky shares and the Fox assets has escalated the situation.

In late morning trading Wednesday, Sky shares were up 0.2% at 1,440p.

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Wed, 27 Jun 2018 11:44:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/199674/walt-disney-ups-earnings-forecasts-for-sky-while-hedge-funds-pressure-regulator-to-up-bid-price-199674.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky shares rise after Disney US$88bn bid for 21st Century Fox ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/199234/sky-shares-rise-after-disney-us88bn-bid-for-21st-century-fox-199234.html Shares in Sky PLC (LON:SKY) jumped 3% after it emerged that The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has increased its offer for 21st Century Fox Inc by US$10 a share to US$38, valuing the maker of Modern Family and Family Guy at US$71.3bn.

The offer trumps a US$65bn deal tabled by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCA) – and looks like it was pitched as a knock-out bid.

Sky is caught in the cross-fire as Fox owns 61% of the satellite broadcaster and Premier League rights holder.

Fox shareholders can opt for cash or take their payment in Disney stock.

It’s reported that Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch and Disney boss Bob Iger met Tuesday night before this new bid was submitted.

In early New York trading, Fox shares were up 63% at US$47.09, while Disney shares rose 1.6%.to US$107.75, and Comcast shares were up 0.1% at US$32.84.

In a statement, Murdoch said: "We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry.

"We remain convinced that the combination of [Fox's] iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney's will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world."

READ: Clash of the media titans and how the bidding war unfolded 

Disney and Comcast are vying for assets including the Twentieth Century Fox film and TV studio as well as the US cable networks and regional sports channels.

Outside the US, operations including Sky and Star India are in play along with Fox’s one-third stake in the streaming service Hulu.

Not on the auction block are Fox News, Fox Sports 1, the Fox broadcast network or its television stations.

Irrespective of who eventually wins, the assets would be spun off into a new company, for the moment, dubbed New Fox.

In London, Sky shares were 3.3% higher at 1,382p in late afternoon trading.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com commented: “Sky shares are trading up 3% today at £13.82 on the news but they could go higher if Comcast really goes big. Even it doesn't have the appetite for all of Fox it could settle to swoop for Sky only and bag those important European subscription revs."

 -- Adds analyst comment, updates share prices --

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Wed, 20 Jun 2018 13:25:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/199234/sky-shares-rise-after-disney-us88bn-bid-for-21st-century-fox-199234.html
<![CDATA[News - UK government approves Fox's takeover of Sky as long as it agrees to sell off Sky News ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/198290/uk-government-approves-fox-s-takeover-of-sky-as-long-as-it-agrees-to-sell-off-sky-news-198290.html The UK government has approved 21st Century Fox Inc’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) £19bn takeover offer for Sky PLC (LON:SKY), as long as Sky News is sold off to a “suitable third party”.

Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox launched its 1,075p a share bid for the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own back in December 2016, since when it has been scrutinised by both Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority.

READ: Sky rockets as Murdoch attempts homecoming

Culture secretary Matt Hancock, who has been reviewing the deal on the grounds of media plurality and broadcasting standards, told MPs today he agreed with the CMA’s report that the Murdoch family would have too much influence over the UK news agenda should the deal go ahead as initially suggested.

Fox previously put forward a remedy to this issue, telling regulators it would sell off Sky News to a third party, possibly Disney. Hancock agreed that this would be the “most proportionate and effective” option.

“As a result, I have asked my officials to begin immediate discussions with the parties to finalise the details with a view to agreeing an acceptable form of the remedy, so we can all be confident Sky News can be divested in a way that works for the long-term,” Hancock said.

He added that he hoped to have the process wrapped up within the next month.

Comcast proposal waved through

Should Fox and the government not be able to agree on the required remedy, Hancock said he would be forced to reject the bid outright, although he conceded this was not his “preferred approach”.

As had been expected, Hancock also gave his backing to a rival £22bn offer from Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) given the US telecoms giant’s relatively small presence in the UK.

READ: Sky gets surprise £22bn offer from Comcast

“I have concluded that the proposed [Comcast-Sky] merger does not raise public interest concerns and so I will not be intervening,” Hancock said.

Comcast, which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures, had already promised to keep Sky’s headquarters in London and guarantee the editorial independence and funding of Sky News for at least 10 years. It also said it would not look to buy a majority interest in any UK newspaper for at least five years.

What now?

The approval of both deals sets up the prospect of a bidding war for Sky, although the share price will tell you that the market has been expecting this for a little while.

Fox’s offer is for 1,075p a share, while Comcast’s improved offer values each Sky share at 1,250p.

With the current share price at just over 1,350p, shareholders are betting that more bids will be forthcoming.

Complicating things is a separate deal between Fox and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), currently being scrutinised by competition regulators in the US.

Disney has agreed to pay just over US$50bn in stock to snap up Fox’s entertainment assets, which includes the 39% stake in Sky. Meanwhile, Comcast has also stated that it is in the advanced stages of preparing a superior bid for the same assets, although no offer has so far emerged.

In short, regardless of which company is successful with its offer, Sky is unlikely to wind up as a part of Fox once the dust has settled.

Sky shares nudged 0.4% higher to 1,356p in late afternoon trade in London.

In a statement responding to the announcement, the satellite broadcaster said: “The Independent Directors of Sky are mindful of their fiduciary duties and remain focused on maximising value for Sky shareholders.”

 -- Adds Sky statement --

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Tue, 05 Jun 2018 14:15:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/198290/uk-government-approves-fox-s-takeover-of-sky-as-long-as-it-agrees-to-sell-off-sky-news-198290.html
<![CDATA[News - Comcast's takeover bid for Sky receives boost from Culture Secretary ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/197386/comcast-s-takeover-bid-for-sky-receives-boost-from-culture-secretary-197386.html Comcast Corp’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) £22bn takeover bid for Sky PLC (LON:SKY) is unlikely to be referred to the media regulator for a full investigation, Britain’s culture secretary said on Monday.

Matt Hancock, who has 10 working days to make a final decision on whether to refer the deal to Ofcom for an investigation, said he is “not minded” to intervene.

In a statement, he said: “Having reviewed the relevant evidence available, I can confirm that I have today written to the parties to inform them that I am minded not to issue an European Intervention Notice on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention,” he said.

"This is a quasi-judicial decision and I am required to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible."

Government still reviewing Fox-Sky takeover bid

The government is still reviewing a rival £19bn bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ:FOXA) for Sky after receiving the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s report into the deal earlier this month.  

READ: UK government to deliver its verdict on 21st Century Fox’s bid for Sky by June 13

Hancock will deliver his verdict on Fox’s 18-month pursuit by June 13.

Last month Sky pulled its recommendation for Fox’s offer to buy the 61% stake in the broadcaster that it does not already own after Comcast swooped in with an improved offer.

READ: Sky pulls recommendation for Fox takeover bid after higher offer from Comcast

Both Fox and Comcast have made a series of pledges with regard to Sky News to get the deal approved.

Comcast, which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures, has promised to keep Sky’s headquarters in London and guarantee the editorial independence and funding of Sky News for at least 10 years. Comcast also said it would not look to buy a majority interest in any UK newspaper for at least five years. 

Fox has said it would give Sky News an independent editorial board and sell the channel to Disney to ease concerns about giving Murdoch too much power over the UK’s media.

Separately, Fox has agreed to sell its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS).

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Mon, 21 May 2018 14:29:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/197386/comcast-s-takeover-bid-for-sky-receives-boost-from-culture-secretary-197386.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky deputy chairman to focus on broadcaster’s takeover as Glencore grants him leave of absence ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/197093/sky-deputy-chairman-to-focus-on-broadcasters-takeover-as-glencore-grants-him-leave-of-absence-197093.html Martin Gilbert, the deputy chairman of Sky PLC (LON:SKY), is to focus his efforts on the satellite broadcaster’s protracted takeover after mining giant Glenore PLC (LON:GLEN) granted him a leave of absence from his role as director.

Gilbert, who is also the co-chief executive at Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA), will return to his role at Glencore in mid-October, the miner said in a stock market announcement.

“Owing to his current commitment as deputy chairman of Sky in respect of its protracted competitive bid situation, the board has granted to Martin Gilbert a leave of absence as Director until mid-October 2018.”

READ: Sky pulls recommendation for Fox takeover bid

Sky is in the middle of a complex takeover battle, with 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) both lodging formal bids.

Fox was the first to make an approach, bidding £11.7bn for the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own. This offer was recommended by Sky to its shareholders and is currently being reviewed by the government, which is expected to make a final decision by June 13.

Sky pulled its support for this bid last month though, after Fox’s US rival Comcast came in with a more lucrative £22bn offer.

Adding to the drama is the Walt Disney Company’s (NYSE:DIS) takeover of Fox. Should the Fox deal get the green light from the government and Sky’s shareholders, it is expected that Sky will be transferred to Disney, assuming that takeover gets the go-ahead as well.

Sky investors are clearly expecting a bidding war to kick off, with the share price currently sitting at £13.64 – comfortably ahead of Fox’s offer of £10.75 and Comcast’s £12.50 bid.

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Wed, 16 May 2018 09:50:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/197093/sky-deputy-chairman-to-focus-on-broadcasters-takeover-as-glencore-grants-him-leave-of-absence-197093.html
<![CDATA[News - UK government to deliver its verdict on 21st Century Fox’s bid for Sky by June 13 ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/196165/uk-government-to-deliver-its-verdict-on-21st-century-foxs-bid-for-sky-by-june-13-196165.html The UK government has said it will deliver its verdict on 21st Century Fox Inc’s  (NASDAQ:FOXA) 18-month pursuit of satellite broadcaster Sky PLC (LON:SKY) by June 13.

In a statement to parliament,  media secretary Matt Hancock said: "My decision will be on whether the merger operates or may be expected to operate against the public interest, taking into account the specified public interest considerations of media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards.”

READ: Sky pulls recommendation for Fox takeover bid after higher offer from Comcast

Hancock said he would deliver his final verdict to parliament, however, he added, that having given his verdict, he would consider any further undertakings that may be made by Fox and offer the industry the chance to give their verdict.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) sent its assessment of the likely impact of the deal to Hancock on Tuesday, giving him 30 working days to make a decision.

Fox has offered a string of undertakings designed to protect the editorial independence of Sky's News division but in February both sides were stunned when US media group Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA).made a rival offer.

Comcast has since made that a formal £22bn (US$31bn) bid and, as a result, last week Sky pulled its recommendation of the £19bn offer Rupert Murdoch’s Fox made for the 61% of the company it does not already own in December 2016.

Fox's bid for Sky has also been complicated by its more recent agreement to sell many of its TV and film assets to Walt Disney Co, including its stake in Sky, for US$52bn.

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Tue, 01 May 2018 15:01:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/196165/uk-government-to-deliver-its-verdict-on-21st-century-foxs-bid-for-sky-by-june-13-196165.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky pulls recommendation for Fox takeover bid after higher offer from Comcast ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/195752/sky-pulls-recommendation-for-fox-takeover-bid-after-higher-offer-from-comcast-195752.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) has pulled its recommendation of a takeover bid from 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) after receiving a £22bn formal offer from Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA).

The Comcast bid is higher than the £19bn Rupert Murdoch’s Fox has offered to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

"As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the independent committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by 21st Century Fox on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the co-operation agreement entered into with 21st Century Fox on the same date," Sky's independent directors said in a statement on Wednesday.

Comcast said its offer of £12.50 per share for Sky represents a 16% premium to Fox’s £10.75 per share proposal.

In a statement, Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said: "We are delighted to be formalising our offer for Sky today.

"We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast. Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand. It is led by a terrific management team who we look forward to working with to build and grow this business."

Comcast had already said in February that it was considering a £22bn bid for Sky so the announcement of the formal offer was expected.  

READ: Here’s the news: Sky gets surprise £22.1bn cash bid from Comcast, trumping Rupert Murdoch's Fox offer Premier League rights a 'game-changer' for Sky's value

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Part of the reason the value of the deal is significantly higher than what Fox originally put forward is that Sky has since secured three more years of rights to Premier League football at a reduced cost. As far as the value of Sky goes, that’s a game-changer."

READ: Premier League auction sees rights fees cool, so is the rivalry now over for Sky and BT Sport?

He added: "The rights may come with multi-billion pound price tags, but Sky has proven the Premier League deals are well worth the outlay. The group looks on course to deliver operating profits of £1.5bn this year, double what it earned ten years ago.”

READ: Sky delivers strong quarter ahead of expected Fox-Comcast bidding war Comcast makes pledges to protect Sky News

Comcast, which owns CNBC, NBC Universal and Universal Pictures, plans to agree a number of legally-binding commitments with regard to Sky News.

It has pledged to keep Sky’s headquarters in London and guarantee the editorial independence and funding of Sky News for at least 10 years. Comcast also said it would not look to buy a majority interest in any UK newspaper for at least five years. 

Fox-Sky bid scrutinised by UK regulators

Fox had also made a series of concessions to UK regulators to soothe concerns over its Sky takeover bid, including giving Sky News an independent editorial board and selling the channel to Disney.

The proposed deal was being investigated by the UK Competition and Market Authority over worries it would give Murdoch too much influence over the UK media. 

Murdoch owns The Times, Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers in the UK. 

The investigation held up a separate US$66bn deal Fox has made to sell its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS).

 

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Wed, 25 Apr 2018 12:23:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/195752/sky-pulls-recommendation-for-fox-takeover-bid-after-higher-offer-from-comcast-195752.html
<![CDATA[News - UK gambling firm Sky Betting and Gaming to be sold to Canada's Stars Group- ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/195543/uk-gambling-firm-sky-betting-and-gaming-to-be-sold-to-canada-s-stars-group--195543.html British-based gambling company Sky Betting and Gaming is to be sold to Canadian sector peer Stars Group in a deal worth US$4.7bn.

Stars will buy Sky Bet, the firm behind the Sky Vegas and Sky Casino brands, from major shareholders CVC Capital Partners and Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

Private equity firm CVC currently holds a 71% stake in Sky Bet while Sky owns 20%. The remaining shares are held by Sky Bet's management, including chief executive Richard Flint. 

Stars, the owner of PokerStars, said the deal will create the largest publicly-listed online gaming company in the world.

Rafi Ashkenazi, the chief executive of Stars, said the “landmark” acquisition would complement the PokerStars online card room.

“Sky Bet operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers,” he said.

Sky said in a statement that it would receive about £425mln in cash and 7.6mln newly issued shares, or about 3% of Stars Group, worth about £145mln. The broadcaster sold 80% of Sky Bet to CVC in 2015.

The deal, which is expected to be completed later this year, puts an end to speculation Sky Bet would soon announce a £3bn flotation.

In January, reports circulated that CVC had hired investment bank Rothschild to look at options for a stock market listing.

Stars has been expanding its operations across different regions with recent acquisitions in Australia including CrownBet and William Hill Australia.

The group’s purchase of William Hill Australia, announced last month,  followed a year-and-a-half after a failed attempt to merge with the parent company William Hill PLC (LON:WMH).

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Mon, 23 Apr 2018 08:25:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/195543/uk-gambling-firm-sky-betting-and-gaming-to-be-sold-to-canada-s-stars-group--195543.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky delivers strong quarter ahead of expected Fox-Comcast bidding war ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/195341/sky-delivers-strong-quarter-ahead-of-expected-fox-comcast-bidding-war-195341.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) reported a 5% increase in quarterly like-for-like revenue ahead of an expected bidding war between 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) for the British broadcaster.

The company said revenue rose to £10.1bn in the nine months to March 31, compared to £9.7bn the same period a year ago, as it added 38,000 new customers.

Underlying earnings rose 10% to £1.7bn as growth in Italy and the UK and Ireland offset a decline in Germany and Austria where the group invested in expanding its products and services, broadening its content offering and improving its front-line customer service.

"It's been a good quarter for Sky,” said chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

He added: “Whilst we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging, the business is in good shape and we remain on track for the full year."

Fox vs Comcast

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox is awaiting a decision from UK regulators on its plan to buy the rest of Sky that it does not already own in a deal valued at £11.7bn.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to buy Fox assets, including its 39% stake in Sky, in a separate deal, which is also subject to regulatory approval.

Last week, the UK takeover regulator ruled that Disney must make an offer for the whole of Sky if it succeeds in buying the Fox assets.

READ: Takeover regulator rules Walt Disney must make offer for whole of Sky if it succeeds in buying 21st Century Fox assets

Fox also has a possible contender for Sky with Comcast saying in February that it was considering making an offer. Comcast has proposed a bid at a 16% premium to Fox’s bid and is expected to formalise its offer soon.

Fox has had to make a series of concessions to soothe concerns raised by the UK Competition and Market Authority about the takeover of Sky, giving Rupert Murdoch too much influence over British media.  Murdoch also owns The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun in the UK.

Concessions include giving Sky News an independent editorial board and selling the channel to Disney.

Premier League rights worth the hefty price tag, says analyst

Sky is expected to expand its content to customers after extending its Premier League rights in February and agreeing a partnership with Netflix in March.

In February, Sky extended its rights to broadcast Premier League football through to 2022 for £1.19bn a year, representing a 16% reduction in cost per game with its current agreement. 

Sky will show 128 matches per soccer season, compared to 126 matches currently. 

“Premier League rights costs are notoriously expensive, but the value of the coverage to Sky is even greater," said George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. 

"As a result the group looks on course to deliver operating profits of £1.5bn this year, double what it earned 10 years ago.

"While protests in Germany show the public aren’t quite taking as well to Monday night football, in the longer term, we see no reason why the success of the UK model can’t be replicated in Germany and Italy."

Sky's partnership with Netflix will allow subscribers using the ultra HD Sky Q platform in the UK and Ireland to access to a new subscription pack containing full Netflix content in the coming year.

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Thu, 19 Apr 2018 08:14:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/195341/sky-delivers-strong-quarter-ahead-of-expected-fox-comcast-bidding-war-195341.html
<![CDATA[News - Takeover regulator rules Walt Disney must make offer for whole of Sky if it succeeds in buying 21st Century Fox assets ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/194852/takeover-regulator-rules-walt-disney-must-make-offer-for-whole-of-sky-if-it-succeeds-in-buying-21st-century-fox-assets-194852.html The UK takeover regulator has ruled that Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) must make an offer for the whole of Sky PLC (LON:SKY) if it succeeds in buying 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) assets, including its 39% stake in the European pay-TV company.

The Takeover Panel also said Disney must match Fox's 1,075p a share takeover offer for the shares in Sky it does not already own.

READ: Sky News could be sold to Disney in bid to gain CMA approval for Fox-Sky takeover

Rupert Murdoch's Fox agreed an offer to buy all of Sky 17 months ago but is still waiting approval from regulators to complete the deal.

In the meantime, Disney agreed to buy Fox assets, including its stake in Sky, in a separate deal, which is also subject to regulatory clearance.

Disney has said it did not believe it should be required to make a bid for the whole of Sky in line with Fox's existing offer if it bought the assets.

However, the Takeover Panel said it considered that securing control of Sky might reasonably be considered to be a significant purpose of Disney's acquiring control of Fox, and it must make an offer within 28 days of buying the Fox assets.

The Panel's ruling will not stand if Fox has already acquired 100% of Sky by the time Disney buys the Fox assets, or if Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or any other third party has acquired a stake of more than 50% in Sky.

US cable company Comcast said on 27 February that it was considering making an offer for Sky.

Take no action

In a statement, Sky noted the ruling, and advised its shareholders to take no further action at this time.

Sky shares were steady at 1,310p in late morning trading in London.

In pre-market New York trading, Fox shares were 0.2% lower at US$35.65, while Disney shares gained 0.2% at US$101.

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Thu, 12 Apr 2018 11:53:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/194852/takeover-regulator-rules-walt-disney-must-make-offer-for-whole-of-sky-if-it-succeeds-in-buying-21st-century-fox-assets-194852.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky News could be sold to Disney in bid to gain CMA approval for Fox-Sky takeover ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/194126/sky-news-could-be-sold-to-disney-in-bid-to-gain-cma-approval-for-fox-sky-takeover-194126.html Sky News could be sold to Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) or ringfenced under proposals by 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) as a way to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

Fox wants to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own for £11.7bn but the UK Competition and Markets Authority has raised concerns that a deal would give the Murdoch family too much influence over public opinion and political agenda.

In a bid to alleviate the CMA’s concerns, Fox has recommended either a legal separation and ringfencing of Sky News or selling the news outlet to Disney.

READ: Walt Disney confirms deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox's assets

Disney would buy Sky News regardless of whether its proposed acquisition of Fox’s assets proceeds.

In December, Disney agreed to buy the bulk of Fox’s assets, including its film and television studios, for US$52.4bn.

Fox proposals should address CMA concerns, says Sky

In a statement on Tuesday, Sky said it believes that the two remedy proposals brought forward by Fox to the CMA “comprehensively address” any concerns the watchdog may have and “would guarantee the long-term future of Sky News and its ongoing editorial independence”.  

“As the regulatory process remains ongoing, shareholders are advised to take no action at this stage,” the company said.

Fox said it has “worked diligently” with the CMA throughout the regulator’s review of the deal.

The company said it thinks the "enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA's provisional concerns".

Fox accuses MPs of 'fanciful assertions' against Sky deal

Fox also hit back at MPs opposed to the proposed takeover, accusing them of seeking to influence the CMA and making a “number of unsupported and fanciful assertions”.

“If the CMA were to accept at face value these assertions and be dissatisfied with enhanced remedies that are a direct and reasonable response to concerns it had raised with us, we believe that this would compromise the integrity of a system which is supposed to be objective, evidenced-based and grounded on the application of established legal principles,” Fox said.

The CMA in January said it had provisionally found that Fox taking full ownership of Sky is not in the public interest due to media plurality concerns.

Murdoch's Sky bid against public interest, competition authority rules provisionally

The watchdog investigated the proposed deal over media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards following a referral from the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

Liberum expects Fox to revise bid for Sky

Analysts at Liberum said they think Fox's proposed remedies should be enough to overcome the CMA's concerns on news plurality. 

"More importantly, we think the news and today’s comments from Sky point to a revised bid from Fox/Disney to trump Comcast’s 1250p bid," they said.

In February, Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) unveiled a possible £22.1bn (US$31bn) all-cash offer to buy Sky. 

Liberum added: "The news that Sky Italia seems to have settled its long-running fight with Mediaset in the Italian pay-TV market also makes Sky more valuable to a bidder, given it makes the prospects in Italy more attractive."

Sky Italia and Mediaset announced a content and distribution deal on Friday, paving the way for a collaboration between the two media groups.

Liberum said the agreement suggests Mediaset is likely to exit its pay-TV business and sell its stake to Sky. This would make Sky effectively the sole major pay-TV platform in Italy, subject to regulatory approval.

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Tue, 03 Apr 2018 08:08:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/194126/sky-news-could-be-sold-to-disney-in-bid-to-gain-cma-approval-for-fox-sky-takeover-194126.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky shares come down to earth a little as two brokers make diverse moves after Comcast bid ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/192344/sky-shares-come-down-to-earth-a-little-as-two-brokers-make-diverse-moves-after-comcast-bid-192344.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) shares came down to earth a little after the strong gains yesterday following Comcast Corp’s. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) surprise £22.1bn bid move for the satellite broadcaster as one broker upgraded its rating for the stock, while another downgraded its stance.

In late morning trading, the FTSE 100-listed firm’s shares were up just 0.1% at 1,333p having jumped around 20% higher on Tuesday after Comcast tabled its 1,250p all-cash offer.

READ: Sky gets surprise £22.1bn cash bid from Comcast, trumping Rupert Murdoch's Fox offer

That a 16% premium to the already agreed 1,075p a share bid for Sky from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) which is still being probed by the UK competition watchdog.

Liberum Capital upgraded its rating for the pay-TV group to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ and increased their price target for the stock to 1,250p from 970p on the back of the contested bid move.

In a note to clients, Liberum’s analysts said: “We expect this deal to go through as we do not think Fox (or Disney, who are acquiring the Sky assets as part of their purchase of various Fox assets) will want to get into a bidding war, especially given the complications surrounding Sky News.”

SocGen thinks shares up with events

However, analysts at French broker Societe Generale cut its rating for Sky to ‘hold’ from ‘buy, while moving their price target up to 1,330p from 1,250p, although they think Fox could still raise its bid.

The SocGen analysts said: “We had taken the view that Sky shares were trading significantly below fundamental value and that the threat of FAANGs’ globally-branded online platforms combined with a conducive M&A backdrop would drive a significant ‘bump’ in 21CF’s 1075p prevailing offer.

“But with one ‘bump’ now on the table, even though we nudge up our TP from 1250p to 1330p, yesterday’s 20% share price jump leaves them up with events.”

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Wed, 28 Feb 2018 11:50:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/192344/sky-shares-come-down-to-earth-a-little-as-two-brokers-make-diverse-moves-after-comcast-bid-192344.html
<![CDATA[News - Here’s the news: Sky gets surprise £22.1bn cash bid from Comcast, trumping Rupert Murdoch's Fox offer ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/192237/heres-the-news-sky-gets-surprise-221bn-cash-bid-from-comcast-trumping-rupert-murdoch-s-fox-offer-192237.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) got a surprise on Tuesday after the biggest US cable operator, Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) unveiled a possible £22.1bn (US$31bn) all-cash offer to buy the satellite broadcaster, challenging Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc’s (NASDAQ:FOX) takeover bid.

Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said in a statement that it would offer 1,250p per share to Sky investors, significantly higher than the 1,075p a share Fox bid to which Sky has already agreed.

READ: Sky’s ‘bargain’ Premier League rights deal could leave investors wanting more money from Murdoch

In a brief statement responding to the Comcast announcement, Sky said: ”Since no firm offer has been made at this point, shareholders are advised to take no action.”

The group added: ”A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

Sky also said its independent directors “are mindful of their fiduciary duties and their obligations under the UK Takeover Code.”

Disney and Murdoch taken-on

The proposed offer pits Comcast not only against Murdoch, but also against Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) which has agreed to buy a string of assets from Fox once the deal is done, including Sky.

Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said: "We would like to own the whole of Sky and we will be looking to acquire over 50% of the Sky shares."

Fox agreed to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own in December 2016 but the takeover has been repeatedly held up by regulatory concerns that Murdoch controls too much media in the UK and is being still investigated by the Competition & Markets Authority.

Some Sky shareholders have also started to complain that the Fox offer is too low.

Sky shares closed trading at 1,105p on Monday, above the Fox bid level, and soared 20.5% higher to 1,332p in lunchtime today.

Cat amongst the pigeons

Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, commented “Comcast’s approach for Sky is a fascinating development in the battle for media might.

“The deal would have attractions on a number of fronts, not least of which would be the removal of complexity from the current tripartite discussions between Fox, Disney and Sky. In a land where, increasingly, content is king, there would be synergies from a creative programming perspective, whilst the potential showstopper of media plurality concerns would probably not apply to the Comcast bid.

"Meanwhile, the combined group would have a stable of media, production and technology outlets which would position it strongly in any number of countries.”

He added: “In a normal takeover situation, the potential acquirer would be extremely keen to have the support of the largest shareholder in an effort to ease the deal through. Unlikely though it seems, this could yet happen, but it is equally plausible that Fox will need to return with an improved bid, which the market was beginning to anticipate in any event.

“Indeed, the initial share price reaction suggests that this story has further to run, with Sky’s price leaping above the level of the already increased Comcast offer.

Hunter concluded: “Whatever the outcome, Comcast has put the cat amongst the pigeons with a move which should make for compulsive viewing.”

 -- Adds Sky statement, updates share price --

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Tue, 27 Feb 2018 07:42:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/192237/heres-the-news-sky-gets-surprise-221bn-cash-bid-from-comcast-trumping-rupert-murdoch-s-fox-offer-192237.html
<![CDATA[News - RBC Capital Markets downgrades Sky rating but hikes price target on takeover expectations ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191769/rbc-capital-markets-downgrades-sky-rating-but-hikes-price-target-on-takeover-expectations-191769.html Investment bank RBC Capital Markets has downgraded its rating for Sky PLC (LON:SKY) to ‘perform’ from ‘outperform’ but increased its price target for the bid-bound satellite broadcaster.

In a note to clients, the Canadian broker’s analysts said that post the renewal of FA Premier League rights, Sky shares are now trading in line with 21st Century Fox Inc’s (NASDAQ:FOX) takeover offer.

READ: Sky’s ‘bargain’ Premier League right deal could leave investors wanting more money from Murdoch

Therefore, they have raised their price target to 1,150p from 1,075p but pulled back their recommendation with the stock trading at 1,094p this morning, up 0.5% on last night’s close.

The analysts believe Fox is likely to bump up its offer for Sky in order to get shareholder approval at the extraordinary general meeting, should regulatory clearance finally be given.

READ: Sky shares sink after reports of deal talks between Disney and 21st Century Fox

The analysts explained that Fox has reserved the right to convert its Scheme of Agreement to a Takeover Offer, which would enable the US company to complete the deal more easily, but not automatically squeeze out minority shareholders.

Because of this, the RBC analysts believe Fox will be more likely to ‘sweeten’ the terms of its offer.

The analysts concluded: “Our new price target is based on our estimate of the required sweetening of the terms to get the deal through. We believe there is a very high probability of Sky being acquired.”

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Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:05:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191769/rbc-capital-markets-downgrades-sky-rating-but-hikes-price-target-on-takeover-expectations-191769.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky’s ‘bargain’ Premier League rights deal could leave investors wanting more money from Murdoch ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191658/skys-bargain-premier-league-rights-deal-could-leave-investors-wanting-more-money-from-murdoch-191658.html Cheaper than expected Premier League rights have raised hopes that Sky Plc (LON:SKY) could land more money from Fox.

21 Century Fox had agreed to pay £18.5mln to buy Sky, though the fate of the transaction remains in the hands of competition regulators.

Positive investor sentiment today helped Sky shares rise above the proposed Fox takeover price.

READ: Premier League auction sees rights fees cool, so is the rivalry now over for Sky and BT Sport?

At the same time, UBS analyst, Polo Tang reckons that greater profitability within the Sky business - helped by the Premier League savings - could lead shareholders to seek a higher price.

Tang was not alone in this assertion today.

“Sky looks much healthier than when Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox first bid for the business. In early trading the shares touched £10.95, 20p ahead of the price Fox has agreed to pay,” said George Salmon, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“This tells us Murdoch might need to come back with an improved offer.”

The Lansdown analyst, meanwhile, speculated on what may come of the two remaining rights packages.

“There’s two packages still up for grabs, but so far Sky is the big winner from the Premier League auction,” Salmon added.

“Securing more games at a lower cost is a major coup, and with BT seemingly content to play second fiddle on the Premier League, that rivalry now looks to have thawed.

“There’s always the chance the remaining two packages spring a surprise, but with reserve prices not yet reached, it’s safe to say Amazon, Netflix and other potential new entrants aren’t prepared to adopt the aggressive strategy Sky execs must have feared.”

Sky & BT Sports to pay £4.46bn in latest rights auction

It was revealed late on Tuesday that Sky and BT Group plc (LON:BT.A) had agreed to pay a total of £4.464bn to secure the broadcast rights for Premier League football games to show 160 games a season from 2019/20 until 2021/22. The amount is less than what the two broadcasters paid in the last bid – when they forked out a total of £5.136bn to screen 168 games.

Sky will show a total of 128 matches per season, which is two more than under the previous package, while BT will screen 32 games, down from the 42 secured previously.

Five of the seven live packages have now been awarded.

Bidding for the remaining two are ongoing. According to Premier League that the two live packages has attracted “interest from multiple bidders.”

"We are extremely pleased that BT and Sky continue to view the Premier League and our clUBS as such an important part of their offering," Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement late Tuesday.

"Both broadcasters are fantastic partners for the Premier League and have a track record of making our competition available to fans across the country through their high-quality and innovative programming.

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Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:21:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191658/skys-bargain-premier-league-rights-deal-could-leave-investors-wanting-more-money-from-murdoch-191658.html
<![CDATA[News - Premier League auction sees rights fees cool, so is the rivalry now over for Sky and BT Sport? ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191633/premier-league-auction-sees-rights-fees-cool-so-is-the-rivalry-now-over-for-sky-and-bt-sport-191633.html The fortune raised by the Premier League in the latest UK TV rights auction is a bit like Manchester United’s current points tally - not that long ago, it would have been hailed as significant and worth celebrating.

Sure, £4.46bn is a lot of money, but it is a long way from the £5.1bn paid for the current rights period.

Late on Tuesday, it was revealed that five of seven broadcast packages have been awarded with the remaining two fixture bundles still to be sold.

Less competitive bidding?

Sky Plc(LON:SKY) won the rights to the majority of the fixtures on offer for the 2019-2022 period, taking four of the packages. In doing so, it has retained the prime fixtures and has essentially safeguarded its popular ‘Super Sunday’ and ‘Monday Night Football’ branded live broadcasts.

READ: Sky Plc’s ‘bargain’ Premier League rights deal could leave investors wanting more money from Murdoch

Significantly, for Sky, its average price per game has reduced by around 16%, down to £9.3mln from £11.1mln.

BT Group plc(LON:BT.A), meanwhile, bought one rights package that will see it broadcast Saturday’s ‘early’ kick-off fixtures. It is paying a similar price as Sky, at around £9.2mln per game, representing an increase from the £7.2mln paid for the comparable fixture package last time.

Bidding for the match broadcast packages (which are separated according to TV time slots) was described as being much less competitive than in the previous round.

For investors in Sky and BT the news is a relief. Broadcasting elite sport has become an expensive marketing exercise for the pay-TV and telecommunications businesses, and price inflation has been a much-publicised worry.

So what caused the about-turn in the inflationary trend?

Was there a recognition that with live football now on TV almost every day that Huddersfield vs Bournemouth broadcast during Sunday brunch is not very super?

Maybe, there was a realisation that broadcasters are pouring too much cash into the sport, in the wake of a transfer window that saw £75mln change hands for Southampton’s centre back and in which a Leicester winger was deemed worth in excess of £60mln.

Or, maybe even, broadcasters want to save up so they could meet whatever exorbitant fee Wayne Rooney’s agent may seek as the former England captain evidently looks to follow in the punditry footsteps of Gary Lineker, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.

The truth is a little bit more boring than that

A recent ceasefire was reached in the sports rights race between Sky and BT, helped by the industry watchdog, and as a result there will be a formal content sharing pact. It will basically mean that viewers won’t be required to pay for separate subscriptions in order to access all the games.

READ: BT scores “good” result in Premier League rights auction - analyst

It also means that there won’t be any real exclusivity to be gained for the companies respective subscription models.

Put more simply, Sky isn’t so pressured to pay a premium price to protect its territory as long as BT is satisfied with broadcasting the smaller package of games and cross-selling all the Sky Sports channels to its broadband subscriber base.

“With BT stepping back from their bold expansion into Premier League screenings, it also brings into question whether the 70% price increase for PL rights over the past four years has finally reached a peak,” said Henry Croft, Accendo Markets research analyst.

Questions and speculation remains over the two outstanding rights packages, and there’s still a possibility of a new entrant from the online streaming sector (notably Amazon has repeatedly been rumoured to have been interested in the auction process).

So, while the rivalry may have cooled between the broadcast and broadband bundlers, a new form of competition may yet emerge.

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Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:31:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191633/premier-league-auction-sees-rights-fees-cool-so-is-the-rivalry-now-over-for-sky-and-bt-sport-191633.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky reports half-year earnings growth despite costs related to Fox takeover bid ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/190600/sky-reports-half-year-earnings-growth-despite-costs-related-to-fox-takeover-bid-190600.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) reported a 10% increase in half-year earnings as it added new customers despite a challenging UK consumer environment.  

The broadcaster, whose proposed takeover by 21st Century Fox (NYSE:FOX) was blocked by the UK competition watchdog this week, said underlying earnings (EBITDA) came to £1.1bn in the six months to December 31.

READ: Murdoch's Sky bid against public interest, competition authority rules provisionally

Sky incurred a £7mln charge stemming from Fox’s bid to buy the rest of the stake that it does not already own in the UK company.

The Competition and Markets Authority said on Tuesday it believed the deal was not in the public interest on the grounds that it would give the Murdoch family too much control over news providers in the UK.

Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun, The Times and a 39% stake in Sky in the UK.

He has agreed to sell most of Fox’s assets to Disney so the latter may end up owning Sky.

Sky said in its interims that the CMA will issue its final findings to the Secretary of State on May 1.

Half-year results

On its results for the half year, Sky posted a 5% increase in like-for-like revenue to £6.7bn as it added 365,000 new customers to 22.9mln.

"This performance reflects the investment choices we have made in recent years, allowing us to more than offset the pressure on consumer spending across Europe, as more customers continue to choose Sky for more of their services,” said chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

"Looking ahead, we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging, however we remain confident in our strategy and our ability to execute our plans."

Sky raised its interim dividend by 4% to 13.06p each in addition to a previously announced special dividend of 10p.

Sky takes on Amazon and Netflix

Acknowledging that it faces rising competition from video streaming rivals, including Netflix and Amazon, Sky is launching a low-cost plug-in smart stick that will provide access to its films, television shows and live sport such as Premier League matches through on TV sets.

The stick for Sky’s Now TV streaming service works in the same way as Amazon’s Fire TV stick by plugging it into the back of a TV.

Sky said it will also to start offering customers the ability to access channels and on-demand content via broadband rather than needing to sign up to its satellite TV packages.

The satellite-free service will first launch in Italy before being deployed in Austria. It will become available across all of Sky's other key markets later.

“This is a major development for Sky that will open up headroom in existing markets, improve our cost to serve for some customer segments, and offer a future way to take Sky into new markets,” Sky said. 

UBS repeats 'buy' rating on Sky

UBS repeated a 'buy' rating on the Sky, saying its half-year figures were in line with expectations but key performance indicators were mixed.

It noted that net adds were weaker compared to a year ago, given the timing of the release of Game of Thrones. Churn improved in the UK at 11.2% from 11.6% a year ago, but was broadly unchanged in Italy 9.6% at and rose in Germany to 14.2% from 10.6%.

However, the dividend was a "positive surprise", UBS said.

"Sky has announced an interim dividend of 13.06p, on top of the special 10p dividend and we would expect continued progressive dividend payments," the broker said.

Uncertainty over Fox takeover proposal 

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the improvement in UK churn was a "big positive" but said the "elephant in the room" remains the impending Fox takeover.

"The CMA’s review into the deal earlier this week raised a couple of concerns over Murdoch taking direct control of Sky News, but with Disney looking likely to acquire Fox itself, that issue could be easier to resolve than might have otherwise been the case," he said.

"However, the wrangling over Sky’s future ownership won’t be resolved before the next Premier League rights auction, with bids due in around a fortnight’s time.

"Last time out Sky agreed to pay £4.2bn, and with deep-pocketed rivals like Amazon rumoured to be interested this time, whoever ends up in control might find their first task is to offset a chunky increase in costs."

READ: BT Group and Sky looking over their shoulders as Amazon rumoured to be in running for Premier League soccer rights

Salmon reckons the decision to start offering customers an option to buy traditional rival BT Sport’s channels could imply Sky is bracing itself for the entry of new challenger.

READ: BT shares gain on deal with rival Sky to supply each other's TV channels ]]>
Thu, 25 Jan 2018 07:51:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/190600/sky-reports-half-year-earnings-growth-despite-costs-related-to-fox-takeover-bid-190600.html
<![CDATA[News - Murdoch's Sky bid against public interest, competition authority rules provisionally ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/190438/murdoch-s-sky-bid-against-public-interest-competition-authority-rules-provisionally-190438.html A 21st Century Fox takeover of broadcaster SKY PLC (LON:SKY) would be against the public interest, the UK competition authority has judged.

In a provisional ruling, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) objected to the deal on media plurality concerns, but not because of concerns over broadcasting standards in the UK.

The CMA said Rupert Murdoch and his family, who control Fox and News Corporation, would have too much control over news providers in the UK if Fox took over Sky and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.

Disney agrees to buy Fox assets

Since Fox made its bid, however, Walt Disney has agreed to buy its interest in Sky, though this was not considered in making its provisional findings said the CMA, though the eventuality was allowed for in a number of remedies to solve the plurality concerns.

These include spinning off or divesting Sky News, ring-fencing it or an outright halt to the whole deal.

21st Century Fox owns 39% of Sky and launched its £11.7bn bid for the outstanding 61% it did not own in December 2016, five years after a similar attempt to take 100% control was knocked back by the regulator.

The bid was handed to the CMA for investigation in September.

Disney Corp’s agreed takeover of the majority of 21st Century Fox’s assets has further muddied the waters as it included Fox’s 39% stake in Sky.

Rupert Murdoch is said to have wanted to full ownership of Sky concluded before the Fox/Disney deal went ahead, with ownership of the broadcaster being transferred as part of the deal.

Final judgment expected in May

Interested parties will be able to comment on the remedies with the UK government now expected to receive the final judgment on May 1.

The CMA also cleared Fox following recent allegations of sexual harassment in the United States, which did not affect its broadcasting standards in Britain.

In a statement, Fox said it was disappointed by the decision, adding thought it would work with the CMA ahead of the final report in May.

The deal with Disney has to be approved by the US regulatory approval, which is expected to occur in the middle of 2019. 

Media plurality key 

Anne Lambert, chair of the CMA's independent investigation group, said: "Media plurality goes to the heart of our democratic process.

"It is very important that no group or individual should have too much control of our news media or too much power to affect the political agenda."

Broker Liberum suggested the tone in the regulator’s conclusions indicated a greater chance the deal would be blocked.

In particular, the broker highlighted the comment: “The CMA therefore takes the provisional view that prohibition of the Transaction would represent a comprehensive solution to all aspects of the provisional adverse public interest finding and that it poses relatively few risks, compared to other options, in terms of implementation or effectiveness.”  

Shares in Sky rose 2.8% to 1,031p, compared to the 1,075p value of Fox’s bid.

-- adds detail, share price--

 

 

 

 

 

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Tue, 23 Jan 2018 07:29:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/190438/murdoch-s-sky-bid-against-public-interest-competition-authority-rules-provisionally-190438.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky says it could shut down Sky News if it gets in the way of takeover by Murdoch's Fox ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/186942/sky-says-it-could-shut-down-sky-news-if-it-gets-in-the-way-of-takeover-by-murdoch-s-fox-186942.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) has said it could shut down Sky News if it proves an obstacle to the broadcaster’s takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ:FOX).

Fox’s £10.75bn bid to buy the 61% of Sky that it does not already own is being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority amid concerns that Murdoch’s empire would control too much of the media.

The CMA is examining whether the takeover would have an adverse impact on the UK’s plurality of media ownership and broadcasting standards.

Murdoch also owns The Sun and The Times newspapers in the UK.

READ: Sky shares sink after reports of deal talks between Disney and 21st Century Fox

In a submission made to the CMA last month but published by the regulator on Tuesday, Sky said it “would likely be prompted to review" its position "in the event that the continued provision of Sky News in its current form unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities available in relation to Sky's broader business".

"The CMA should not in its assessment simply assume the 'continued provision of Sky News' and its current contribution to plurality, 'absent the transaction',” Sky said.

The submission comes a day after reports that Fox recently held talks about selling most of its business, including Sky, to Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS).The news raised concerns that the Disney talks could scupper Fox's deal with Sky, sending its shares lower on Tuesday.

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Wed, 08 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/186942/sky-says-it-could-shut-down-sky-news-if-it-gets-in-the-way-of-takeover-by-murdoch-s-fox-186942.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky shares sink after reports of deal talks between Disney and 21st Century Fox ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/186875/sky-shares-sink-after-reports-of-deal-talks-between-disney-and-21st-century-fox-186875.html Sky PLC (LON:SKY) shares fell following a report that 21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell a large chunk of its assets to Walt Disney Co.

Rupert Murdoch recently held talks with Disney about selling Fox’s movie and TV production studio studios, cable networks FX and National Geographic and international assets such as the Star network in India and its stake in Sky, CNBC reported.

READ: Competition watchdog to look at Murdoch’s potential influence on Sky News as part of Sky-Fox merger probe

The news sent Sky’s shares down amid worries that it could scupper Fox’s plans to buy the remaining 61% of the UK broadcaster that it does not already own.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley referred Fox’s proposed £11.7bn acquisition of Sky to Britain’s competition watchdog for a six-month investigation earlier this year after a three-month probe by Ofcom. The Competition Market Authority is examining the deal for media plurality and broadcasting standards.

Disney talks create uncertainty for Fox/Sky deal, says Liberum

Analysts at Liberum said the Disney talks “throw a curveball” into Fox’s planned takeover of Sky but it still sees a successful outcome of the bid.

“The news was seen to have two negative read-across points for the Sky bid, namely that (1) Fox may scrap its bid for Sky as part of the proposed sale of assets. CNBC stated that Sky had said it was prepared to walk away from the bid as part of any sale and (2) Fox’s willingness to consider including the Sky stake as part of the disposal assets is a signal that it feels less confident over gaining regulatory approval from the UK Government with the news that regulator Ofcom had stated the Fox News Channel had breached broadcasting standards adding further fuel to the fire,” Liberum said.

It added: “We still see a successful conclusion of the bid as the most likely conclusion, which means the shares offer significant upside, however we understand this news will cause further uncertainty. Reiterate Buy.”

Disney/Fox deal could strengthen the case for Sky takeover, says UBS

UBS also believes Fox will overcome regulatory hurdles in its bid to buy Sky. The bank argued that a combination of Disney and Fox content could strengthen the case for a Sky takeover.

Sky has been building a pan-European streaming platform with its Now TV and Sky Ticket products, and the addition of content from Disney as well as Fox would only make that more compelling, UBS said.

In the event the Fox/Sky deal is blocked, UBS thinks Disney could be a potential strategic bidder for Sky and it would not have same cross-media ownership issues as Fox’s bid. 

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Tue, 07 Nov 2017 12:49:00 +0000 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/186875/sky-shares-sink-after-reports-of-deal-talks-between-disney-and-21st-century-fox-186875.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky’s recent share price weakness makes it a ‘short-term investment opportunity’, says City broker ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/185492/skys-recent-share-price-weakness-makes-it-a-short-term-investment-opportunity-says-city-broker-185492.html Sky PLC’s (LON:SKY) recent share price softness represents a “short-term investment opportunity”, according to analysts at City broker Liberum.

The UK broadcasting giant is currently the subject of an £11.7bn bid from Rupert Murdoch who is looking to acquire the 60% or so of the company the doesn’t already control.

READ: Game of Thrones helps drive Q1 sales and profit growth at Sky

That offer, which is currently being probed by competition regulators, values each Sky share at £10.75 – well above the £9.20 level where the price currently sits, suggesting that investors aren’t convinced the deal will get the green light.

Reaon for optimism?

“Sky’s share price has fallen back…on concerns whether the bid is cleared by the Government and/or that the political environment in the UK has turned more hostile with the rising popularity of the Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, which is hostile to Fox,” wrote Liberum’s Ian Whittaker in a note.

“We think the concerns are overdone and believe the deal will pass.”

Whittaker says that Labour would have to get into power in the first half of next year in order to pose a real threat to the merger; something which he doesn’t think is likely to happen.

He doesn’t expect media plurality or broadcasting standards – the two things the CMA is looking into – should be an issue for Sky.

Ofcom’s initial report suggested that the broadcasting standards wouldn’t be an issue if the takeover goes through, while Whittaker adds that media plurality is “unlikely to be a major factor” given that News Corp is now a separate entity from Fox so the UK newspapers are not housed under the same company.

Given his belief that the deal will go through, the analyst has upped his recommendation to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’, keeping his £10.60 price target in place.

Sky shares were up 0.77%, or 7p, to 920.1p on Thursday morning.

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Thu, 12 Oct 2017 09:25:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/185492/skys-recent-share-price-weakness-makes-it-a-short-term-investment-opportunity-says-city-broker-185492.html
<![CDATA[News - Game of Thrones and Riviera help drive first quarter sales and profit growth at Sky ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/185488/game-of-thrones-and-riviera-help-drive-first-quarter-sales-and-profit-growth-at-sky-185488.html The popularity of TV shows like Game of Thrones and Riviera helped propel Sky PLC’s (LON:SKY) sales and earnings in the first quarter of its financial year.

Analysts had hinted at a slowdown in top line growth but the UK broadcaster saw like-for-like revenues rise by 5% in the three months ended 30 September to £3.3bn – the same rate it delivered in 2016.

Flat cost base helps boost earnings

Operating costs were flat year-on-year, which meant underlying earnings (EBITDA) jumped 11% to £582mln.

One of the factors behind the strong performance was the popularity of its content. More than 4.7mln viewers tuned in to watch Game of Thrones during the period, while Riviera notched up 20mln downloads to make it Sky’s most successful ever drama.

In the UK and Ireland Sky continued the momentum it built towards the end of last year, with revenues up 4% and EBITDA rising 11% to £452mln.

160,000 new UK subscribers; advertising robust

The FTSE 100 company signed up 160,000 new British customers in the quarter – 51% more than it added last year – as well as 108,000 new mobile customers.

Importantly its long-term customers continue to buy more services, Sky said. It hopes to squeeze even more out of them as well going forward with the launch of new, flexible sports packages designed to engage the estimated 4mln sports fans in its UK customer base who don’t currently take Sky Sports.

Advertising has been a tricky one for Sky and fellow broadcasters in recent years as companies cut back on their marketing budgets.

Sky believes the market as a whole was down by around 2% in the UK during the period but said its advertising business still turned in a “good performance…against the backdrop of a difficult market”.

On track heading into busy Q2

“We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we've made come through,” said group chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

“Our investment on-screen to broaden our offering is delivering with viewing to Sky channels up 10% year on year.

“Within this the first series of our home-grown drama Riviera achieved 20 million downloads, becoming our highest ever rated Original commission and Game of Thrones has become the most watched series ever on Sky.”

He added: “Looking ahead, despite the uncertainty in the broader consumer environment, we remain on track with our plans and enter the busy Q2 trading period focused on delivering our clear strategy for growth.”

No real update on Sky-Fox merger

As expected, there was no real update on Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn bid to acquire the 60.9% of the company his 21st Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA) doesn’t already own.

The takeover offer is currently being probed by the Competition and Markets Authority which will look at the possible impact on media plurality and broadcasting standards.

READ: Liberum expects deal to get the thumbs-up

Sky did confirm that the offer, which values each Sky share at £10.75, is not effective before 31 December, it will pay out a special dividend of 10p a share without any reduction in the bid price.

Given that the CMA isn’t expected to complete its investigation until next March, it’s almost certain that the deal won’t be given the greenlight until 2018.

GoT ad campaign a 'masterstroke'

“Marketing has always been a strong suit for Sky, and the decision to base recent campaigns around the hit Game of Thrones series has proved another masterstroke," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst George Salmon.

"New customer growth has rocketed in recent months, with Sky’s pay-as-you-go streaming services also growing handsomely.

"An impressive grip on cost control, plus the successful launch of Sky Mobile and a streaming service in Spain, has added further gloss to these results. All-in-all, there’s been a marked improvement from the back end of its last financial year."

He added: "Usually, such news would come as a relief to investors. However, with Fox’s takeover bid being reviewed on public interest grounds by the Competition and Markets Authority, these are far from normal circumstances."

Netflix and Amazon competition to heat up

"A softer ad market comes just as broadcasters face a fight on a second front with huge competition from new entrants like Netflix and Amazon," said ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

"Like ITV management thinks the answer is content ownership, hence the 25% increase in Sky Originals. Coming up with fresh content is not as a stable source of revenues as ads, however, and comes with additional costs.

"Sports broadcasting rights is a potential source of trouble and a £30 million increase in Bundesliga costs contained in today’s update points to the pressures on margins and profits. BT has already helped drive up costs, the arrival of cord-cutters in the sports broadcasting sector could spark further rights inflation – consensus estimates suggest this could be about £600m a year more, £1.8bn in total over three years, for the right to show the Premier League."

Wilson added: "We note that Amazon has just entered the UK market by outbidding Sky for ATP tour tennis rights – a sign of things to come no doubt."

Shares were up 2%, or 18p, to 931.5p - still way below the Fox offer price which suggets investors aren't holding out much hope that it will get the go-ahead from regulators.

--Adds broker comment, links and share price--

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Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:24:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/185488/game-of-thrones-and-riviera-help-drive-first-quarter-sales-and-profit-growth-at-sky-185488.html
<![CDATA[News - Competition watchdog to look at Murdoch’s potential influence on Sky News as part of Sky-Fox merger probe ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/185342/competition-watchdog-to-look-at-murdochs-potential-influence-on-sky-news-as-part-of-sky-fox-merger-probe-185342.html The competition watchdog has confirmed it will assess whether Rupert Murdoch would wield too much influence over editorial decisions at Sky News as part of its investigation into the billionaire’s £11.7bn Sky PLC (LON:SKY) takeover bid.

After a three month investigation by Ofcom, culture secretary Karen Bradley referred the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full inquiry last month.

READ: Sky shares rocket as Murdoch attempts homecoming with 21st Century Fox

The CMA has now outlined the scope of that probe which will scrutinise how the deal would affect UK media plurality and broadcasting standards if it were to receive the green light.

Murdoch already owns 39% of Sky and a key area of focus for the six-month inquiry will be how his and his family’s ability to shape editorial or commercial decision at Sky News would change if they take full control.

The regulator has also said it will look at how their ability to “influence the political agenda” may change after a takeover, alongside a more general assessment of how any deal would affect the number and variety of British media outlets, given that Murdoch already owns the The Sun and The Times newspapers.

READ: Sky bid officially referred to CMA

The CMA will also scrutinise whether or not 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Sky have a “genuine commitment” to maintaining UK broadcasting standards, while corporate governance and treatment of employees will also be assessed.

"The CMA will use its extensive experience of investigating different issues in a wide range of sectors to thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox,” said CMA panel chair Anne Lambert in a statement.

"Once the investigation is complete we will report back to Karen Bradley for her to make a final decision."

Sky shares were flat at 918p.

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Tue, 10 Oct 2017 12:08:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/185342/competition-watchdog-to-look-at-murdochs-potential-influence-on-sky-news-as-part-of-sky-fox-merger-probe-185342.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky PLC bid officially referred to the Competition and Markets Authority ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/183998/sky-plc-bid-officially-referred-to-the-competition-and-markets-authority-183998.html The proposed takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY) by Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA) has, as anticipated, been referred to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Both parties have pledged to cooperate with the CMA, but the Rupert Murdoch-controlled US company sounded a bit miffed at the referral, saying it wrote to the Culture Secretary Keren Bradley yesterday expressing disappointment that she had changed her mind about recommending an investigation, and informing her that it did not intend to make further representations of its case.

READ: Murdoch's bid to buy Sky to be referred to UK competition regulator by culture secretary

The US company encouraged Bradley to make a prompt referral to the CMA, and in this regard it has got its way – as it usually does in its engagements with the UK government.

There'll be a full probe into Rupert Murdoch's £11.7bn takeover bid for Skyhttps://t.co/XJreHnImLt pic.twitter.com/tj7OtvFePs

— Mirror Politics (@MirrorPolitics) September 14, 2017

Bradley recommended the CMA step in on the grounds of “media plurality” – essentially, concerns that Rupert Murdoch would have an even stronger stranglehold on UK media outlets – and a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards.

Initially she said that any investigation would not be on the grounds of broadcasting standards, but evidently her mind was changed by pressure from the likes of campaign group Avaaz and a group of high-profile MPs led by former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

Murdochs used to say 39% doesn't give control of Sky. Now want to be judged not on record of Fox which they control but Sky which they don't https://t.co/KyiDfmZs8M

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) September 14, 2017 Decision a blow to Fox

Murdoch’s News International company was the company behind the phone-hacking scandal that precipitated the closure of Sunday newspaper News of the World, while the US company’s Fox News channel does, to put it mildly, divide opinions markedly on its journalistic integrity and impartiality.

The decision will be a blow to Fox, which owns 39% of Sky.

The company said it expects the investigation of the £11.7bn deal should be done and dusted by June 2018.

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Thu, 14 Sep 2017 12:56:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/183998/sky-plc-bid-officially-referred-to-the-competition-and-markets-authority-183998.html
<![CDATA[News - Murdoch's bid to buy Sky to be referred to UK competition regulator by culture secretary ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/183843/murdoch-s-bid-to-buy-sky-to-be-referred-to-uk-competition-regulator-by-culture-secretary-183843.html 21st Century Fox’s planned takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY) faces a six-month investigation after the culture secretary said she was minded to refer the deal to the UK competition watchdog,

Karen Bradley told MPs concerns about media plurality and broadcasting standards mean the £11.7bn deal needs further examination by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

READ: Sky shares fall as Murdoch’s takeover bid delayed once again

"I have the power to make a reference if I believe there is a risk - which is not purely fanciful - that the merger might operate against the specified public interests," she said.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, wants to buy the shares it does not already own.

But media regulator Ofcom has raised concerns that the takeover would give the Murdoch family too much power over Britain’s media.

Following Ofcom’s assessment, Bradley had in June said she would look to refer the deal to the CMA on media plurality but not broadcasting standards.

READ: Sky and 21st Century Fox slam culture secretary over delay to proposed takeover deal Concerns about broadcasting standards

Since then, however, there have been calls by campaign group Avaaz and a group of high-profile MPs led by Ed Miliband to refer the takeover on the grounds of broadcasting standards.

The CMA would have up to six months to review the deal.  

"Before I come to a final decision, I am required - under the Enterprise Act 2002 - to allow the parties to make representations on my proposed decision, and this is the reason my decision at this stage remains a minded-to one,” Bradley said.

"I have given the parties 10 working days to respond. Following receipt of any representations from the parties, I will aim to come to my final decision in relation to both grounds as promptly as I can."

Shares in Sky fell 1.78% to 935.590p in afternoon trading. 

Decision long overdue, says analyst

David Cheetham, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said today's decision is long overdue. An announcement was initially expected back in April before being postponed due to the calling of a snap UK general election.

"In all honesty, there always had been a degree of strong hesitation amongst shareholders that this deal was unlikely to go through without any hiccups given the history and so todays news is perhaps confirmation they were right to suspect a delay," said Cheetham. 

He added: "The deal is priced at 1.075p per share and with sky having now fallen to the low 900s there is clearly some considerable doubt as to whether it will in fact go ahead."

"Having said that, the share price remains well above the level traded before the takeover was announced last December with the stock seeing a rapid rise of around 25% in the days that followed from below 800p."

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Tue, 12 Sep 2017 14:23:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/183843/murdoch-s-bid-to-buy-sky-to-be-referred-to-uk-competition-regulator-by-culture-secretary-183843.html
<![CDATA[News - Sky shares fall as Murdoch’s takeover bid delayed once again ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/182192/sky-shares-fall-as-murdochs-takeover-bid-delayed-once-again-182192.html Shares in Sky PLC (LON:SKY) edged lower this morning as Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of the UK broadcaster was hit by further delays after the government asked Ofcom for further input.

The department for digital, culture, media and sport wants the media regulator to conduct further analysis of whether or not the billionaire mogul and his company, 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), would adhere to broadcasting standards in the UK.

Ofcom had no issues with broadcasting standards in original report

In its original report to the government at the end of June, Ofcom said that the merged entity would not “lack a genuine commitment to the attainment of broadcasting standards”, should the deal be approved.

As a result, culture secretary Karen Bradley said there was no need for the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the merger on those grounds, although she added that she was still “minded to” refer the deal to the watchdog on the grounds of media plurality.

READ: Government ‘minded to’ refer Sky-Fox merger to competition regulators

Both Ofcom and the government have come under pressure this week to review that finding amid allegations that Fox News had colluded with the White House on a story that contained fake quotes.

A high-profile group of MPs led by Murdoch critic Ed Miliband, alongside campaign group Avaaz, have written to Bradley demanding that the deal be referred to the CMA on both counts, adding that they would consider legal action if that didn’t happen.

They said the recent allegations against Fox News – which Fox denies – suggested a “brazen disregard for the ethics of journalism” and that they showed new compliance procedures within the organisation had “failed miserably”.

Decision unlikely until next month now

“After assessing the large number of representations made in relation to the secretary of state’s referral decision, a number of these raise new evidence and/or comment on the Ofcom assessment,” the DCMS said in a statement.

“Any referral decision by the secretary of state must be taken on the basis of a valid assessment of all the relevant evidence. For this reason the DCMS has asked Ofcom to advise on a number of points arising from these representations.”

The government has asked Ofcom for a response by 25 August, making it unlikely that any final decision on whether or not to refer the deal to the CMA will be made before parliament returns from its summer recess on 5 September.

Disney/ Netflix drama also weighing

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) dealt film and TV streaming giant Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) a blow yesterday after saying it will launch its own streaming services in 2019.

The Mickey Mouse creator has a deal that allows Netflix to include its films on the popular platform, but that contract runs out in 2019 and won’t be extended, Disney said.

“The potential ramifications from this are huge, particularly for the pay-TV industry, which now faces the threat of disintermediation if others follow. It also emphasises, again, the importance of owning content that people want,” said the media team at Liberum.

“We suspect other big content providers are thinking of going down the Disney route.”

The analysts think Sky could be the European stock most affected by this trend, given the potential for its major sports providers to consider a direct-to-consumer route.

Shares were down 0.7% to 957p.

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Wed, 09 Aug 2017 11:05:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/182192/sky-shares-fall-as-murdochs-takeover-bid-delayed-once-again-182192.html
<![CDATA[News - Amazon aces Sky in tennis to win exclusive rights to ATP World Tour ]]> https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/181802/amazon-aces-sky-in-tennis-to-win-exclusive-rights-to-atp-world-tour-181802.html Sky plc (LON:SKY) has been outbid by Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) for the exclusive rights to stream the ATP World Tour tennis tournament in the UK.

Amazon nabbed the rights from Sky, whose five-year contract ends in 2018, with an offer said to be worth as much has £10mln a year. Sky is understood to have paid about £8mln a year for its current deal.

It marks Amazon’s first major live TV sports rights deal outside the US.

The tech giant’s Amazon Prime Video will broadcast all top-flight men’s tennis other than the four grand slam tournaments, including the end of year ATP World Tour finals at the O2 Arena in London.

Amazon’s contract covers the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Masters 500 tennis tournaments around the world, including in Paris, Miami and Shanghai.

Sky is not believed to have matched the bid it made last to try to secure the new deal as it has started to back away from tennis. Last year the company dropped its coverage of the US Open tournament after 25 years.

Instead, Sky is preparing to invest its energy in going to battle with BT Group plc (LON:BT.A) to renew their £5.14bn rights for the Premier League next year. Sky and BT are hoping to see an end to extensive rights price inflation.

A one-off £629mln rise in its Premier League rights deal contributed to a 14% fall in annual profits at Sky’s UK and Ireland operations.

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Tue, 01 Aug 2017 15:43:00 +0100 https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/181802/amazon-aces-sky-in-tennis-to-win-exclusive-rights-to-atp-world-tour-181802.html