Rupert Murdoch's Fox Outbid in Battle for Sky

July 11, 2018

The battle for British broadcaster Sky is in full swing, with Comcast raising its bid for the company just hours after Rupert Murdoch's Fox did the same.

The cable network on Wednesday offered £14.75, about $19.50 U.S., for Sky shares. That's 18 percent higher than its original bid back in February and values the company at $34 billion.

Twenty-First Century Fox, which already owns 39 percent of Sky, said earlier in the day that it agreed to buy the remaining 61 percent at a valuation of $32.5 billion.

Sky is considered one of the crown jewels in Fox's empire, with suitors eager to capitalize on its international reach in order to better compete with the likes of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

At the annual Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference in Idaho this week, often referred to as 'Summer Camp for Billionaires', former AOL CEO Steve Case told Cheddar that such consolidation in the industry was a long time coming.

"Companies are trying to position themselves for a future where consumers are going to have more choice, more control, and more convenience," he said. "It's going to move from more traditional distribution models ー cable ー into a much more digital model. Clearly, it was going to happen, it's just taken a longer time than we would have thought."

Case was CEO of AOL when the company announced its merger with Time Warner in Sun Valley 19 years ago. He said conversations about the evolution of media technology into things like streaming were happening even then.

Wednesday's offer from Comcast for Sky is just the latest salvo in the ever-complicated relationship between it, Fox, and Disney. Disney agreed last month to buy Fox assets for $71 billion, outbidding a competing offer from Comcast. Disney shareholders will vote on that deal at the end of the month and might ultimately be the one that controls Sky, if Fox's deal is approved.