In a speech to parliament yesterday (5 June), Matt Hancock, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, confirmed that he has concluded that the proposed merger between Sky and Comcast does not raise public interest concerns, and as such. he would not be issuing an intervention notice in relation to the deal. Meanwhile, having also considered the proposed acquisition of Sky by 21st Century Fox (21CF) separately, the government has also provisionally cleared this, though only on the proviso that Fox divests Sky News to Disney, or ‘an alternative suitable buyer, with an agreement to ensure it is funded for at least ten years’.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in April 2018 US cable TV giant Comcast made an offer to acquire Sky for GBP22 billion (USD30.7 billion). In doing so, the US cable TV giant noted that this represented a premium of approximately 16% against the offer of GBP10.75 submitted by 21CF back in December 2016. With Comcast’s bid raising the prospect of a bidding war for Sky, in the wake of the higher cash offer the Independent Committee of Sky withdrew its recommendation for the bid made by 21CF and terminated the Co-operation Agreement it had struck with the company. Further, the Committee noted that both offers were subject to pre-conditions, with neither offer capable of being put to shareholders at that date, while it said that going forward it intended to ‘cooperate fully with both parties to secure the relevant approvals in order to satisfy the pre-conditions for both offers’.