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Fox and Comcast prepare final bids in battle for Sky

By Ian King, business presenter
Half of the City will be working this weekend. The other half wishes it was.
Legions of highly-paid lawyers and bankers will be advising American film and TV firm 21st Century Fox and US cable giant Comcast as they prepare to table bids in an auction that will decide the future of Sky plc, the owner of Sky News.Behind Fox are investment banks Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan, plus the Wall Street specialist advisory firm CenterView.Law firms Allen & Overy, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom, and Simpson Thacher and Bartlett are also on board, plus PR companies Brunswick and Portland.
Fox and Comcast prepare final bids in battle for Sky

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21st Century Fox has been tipped to come out on top
Advising Comcast, meanwhile, are the Mayfair-based specialist advisory firm Robey Warshaw and investment bankers from Evercore, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo.Law firms Davis Polk & Wardwell and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are also on the ticket, as is the PR house Tulchan.For its part, Sky is being advised by Morgan Stanley, Barclays and PJT Partners, the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, and the PR firm Finsbury, with advisory fees from the takeover battle expected to reach an eye-popping total of €580m.That, though, is only part of the story.
Fox and Comcast prepare final bids in battle for Sky

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Comcast had the higher bid ahead of the auction
The advisers to both Fox and Comcast will be desperate that their side comes out on top because victory will propel them up the league tables of advisers and, in turn, will have a significant bearing on their year-end bonuses.So, ordinarily, the advisers would be egging on their clients to bid as much as they possibly can for Sky and employing every trick in the book to cajole them into paying more.But that may not be possible in this case because the protagonists involved are among the most single-minded and experienced figures in business anywhere in the world.Fox's executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive of Disney - which, because it is buying Fox's entertainment assets, is effectively backstopping the Fox bid - are tough men with many decades of hard deal-making and negotiations behind them.
Fox and Comcast prepare final bids in battle for Sky

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Bob Iger , chief executive officer and chairman of The Walt Disney Company
So, too, is Brian Roberts, the chairman and chief executive of Comcast. All three of them will have, in their own mind, the figure they are prepared to pay for Sky.As things stand, Comcast is in the lead, having tabled an offer of €14.75 per share on 11 July, valuing Sky at €26bn.Its move came just hours after Fox itself had increased its offer to €14 per share.Under the terms of the auction set out by the Takeover Panel on Thursday, Fox will get the first chance to improve its terms in Saturday's auction, with Comcast the only party allowed to bid in the second round.
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