US cable giant Comcast in multi-billion euro bid for Sky

FTSE recovers ground as nerves calm over US rates

U.S. cable TV giant Comcast has made a £22.1bn bid for Sky, challenging an existing offer from 21st Century Fox.

Comcast has challenged 21st Century Fox's bid to purchase Sky, announcing today its offer to purchase the British satellite broadcaster for $31 billion.

However, some analysts suggest the Comcast offer could be successful, despite Murdoch's dogged ambition to own the entire business.

Britain's competition regulator said in January his planned takeover should be blocked unless a way was found to prevent the Australian-born power-broker from influencing Sky's news operation. "It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the U.K., Italy and Germany".

Unveiling the bid (PDF), Comcast CEO Brian Roberts described Sky as "an outstanding company" delivering "a fantastic viewing experience", which was a "consistent innovator".

Roberts said Comcast would use Sky to further expand its European presence, reports the Financial Times.

Comcast said it recognized that Sky News was an "invaluable part of the United Kingdom news landscape" and it meant to maintain Sky News' existing brand and culture, as well as its strong track record for high-quality impartial news and adherence to broadcasting standards.

Comcast plans for Sky to serve as a launchpad for its growth in Europe, which it said would increase Comcast worldwide revenue to 25 percent of total revenue from 9 percent.

Fox preferred to sell assets to Disney in part because it believed that deal would present fewer regulatory hurdles, people familiar with the matter have said.

Sky's independent directors are expected to meet in the coming days to discuss the offer and the company said they were mindful of their duties to investors.

What would a takeover mean for Sky? .

Comcast's offer will go ahead if just over 50 percent of Sky shareholders accept it. As of 3:10 p.m. local time, 10:10 a.m. It closed the day up 20.4% at £13.30. At that time, Comcast's stock was down more than 5 percent in early US trading, while Walt Disney's stock was down 2.8 percent.

"We note that no firm offer has been made by Comcast at this point", it added in a short statement.

Its cable TV business is one of the largest in the USA, and Comcast Cable also sells internet and phone services.

Comcast, the owner of NBCUniversal, has made a surprise £22 billion, or $30.7 billion, bid for Sky.

Will the Comcast offer affect Disney's bid for Fox? "It has all the assets to compete with the web giants". We are confident that we will be able to receive the necessary regulatory approvals. An expansion to Europe would let it control both the content and distribution the same way. He concluded: "We would become a unique leader in entertainment and technology".

Disney also sees the benefits of owning Sky, with CEO Bob Iger describing it previous year as "a real crown jewel". NBCSN, a division of Comcast's NBC Universal, now holds Premier League broadcast rights in the U.S. "And the prospect of us two working together...is a very exciting thought for me", he added. "The company intends to maintain Sky News' existing brand and culture, as well as its strong track record for high-quality impartial news and adherence to broadcasting standards". "There are many opportunities, English-speaking from the content side, to work together", he also said. First of all, Dish doesn't own any content.

In December a year ago, Walt Disney agreed to buy the bulk of 21st Century Fox's business, including its 39% Sky stake. If Comcast successfully acquires Sky, it would almost double its more than 29 million subscriber base with an additional 23 million customers in Europe.

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