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Comcast outbids Fox in auction for Sky

By Ian King, Sky News business presenter
Comcast has triumphed in the auction to buy Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, for ?29.7bn in the biggest takeover ever seen in Europe's media industry.
Comcast's offer of €17.28 per share was €1.61 ahead of Fox's offer of €15.67.The US giant's victory follows a dramatic shoot-out with US entertainment giant 21st Century Fox in a rare three-round auction overseen by the Takeover Panel.The result ends 21 months of uncertainty for Sky over its ownership after the company's independent committee unanimously recommended the offer to shareholders.In a statement Sky plc said: "As the price of the final 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, urges shareholders to accept immediately."Both companies want Sky to help them compete more effectively with the new wave of online entertainment providers, including streaming services provided by the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video, who sell their content directly to viewers.
Comcast outbids Fox in auction for Sky

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Brian Roberts is the chief executive of Comcast
Comcast in particular wants Sky to give it a presence in Europe and reduce its dependence on the US and has also made clear its admiration for Sky's technological know-how.Disney, meanwhile, has been looking for a way to make its content available directly to viewers without having to go via a third party like a cable company.Sky agreed to be taken over by Fox, its biggest shareholder, in December 2016. Since then, Fox has agreed to sell most of its entertainment assets to Disney, including its Hollywood film studio and its 39.1% stake in Sky.However, the bid was held up by a lengthy series of investigations by the Competition & Markets Authority and by Ofcom, the broadcasting and telecoms regulator.
Comcast outbids Fox in auction for Sky

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Bob Iger has headed Disney since 2005
Comcast outbids Fox in auction for Sky

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Sky bid story 'not over yet'
That opened the door for Comcast to make a counter-bid for Sky. In July, it tabled a €14.75-a-share offer for Sky, valuing the company at €26bn.That was the highest offer going into today's auction and compared with Friday night's closing price of €15.85.Under the contest, Fox - as the lower bidder - was entitled to raise its offer first.In the second round, only Comcast was allowed to raise its offer.This meant the two sides went into a final "sudden death" round of bidding.Such auctions are exceptionally rare. There have been only four since the rules were changed in 2002 and the most recent of these was in April 2008 when Enodis, a maker of kitchen equipment for McDonald's and Burger King, was acquired by the US company Manitowoc for €948m.
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