Comcast clinches Sky deal

Comcast boss Brian Roberts

“No wonder there’s a market for Uber,” says Alistair Osborne in the Times. “Some poor American tourist took a black cab round London – and ended up with a £30bn bill.” Comcast’s boss Brian Roberts’s (pictured) £30bn purchase of Sky implies a price of £17.28 per share, which represents a 125% premium. Comcast’s shares slipped by 6% on the news due to fears that he had “grossly overpaid”, as research group MoffettNathanson told the Times. The US media conglomerate secured its prize in a blind auction overseen by the UK’s Takeover Panel. It outbid Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which already owns 39% of the British satellite television broadcaster. Fox, backed by Disney, bid just £15.67 a share.

“Why did Comcast want Sky so badly?” asks Amol Rajan on the BBC. “Because it is desperate and Sky is too juicy to ignore.” The context here is the “mad scramble for eyeballs in an industry ripped asunder by technology giants such as Netflix and Amazon.” Sky’s 27 million subscribers and sports content look highly appealing.

Meanwhile, there’s an interesting lesson here, says Nils Pratley in the Guardian. Back in 2016, Sky’s independent directors judged that “outside shareholders should be grateful the Murdochs had showed up with an offer of £10.75”. At the time, the stockmarket was “gloomy on Sky” and its share price sunk to 769p. Nor had Sky won the next collection of Premier League rights. Comcast hadn’t turned up yet to offer a counterbid. This shows that “boards should not always be dazzled by the superficial attraction of a bid at 40% above the market price. Sometimes it’s better to wait for more – a lot more”.