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Comcast to acquire Sky for $39 billion following bidding war

It comes after an unusual blind auction for the UK TV giant.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 22, 2018
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Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The fierce bidding battle over Sky has come to a close -- Comcast has successfully outbid 21st Century Fox to acquire the UK media giant for $39 billion. It clinched the deal following an unusual blind auction through the UK's Takeover Panel, which helps moderate these large scale acquisitions. Comcast had led the bidding for months (including a $34 billion offer in August), but had to go through the Panel after neither side made a final offer.

It's a huge coup for Comcast. Sky has 23 million customers across Europe, and has backed the production of shows for Amazon, HBO and Showtime. It's also well-known for its sports broadcasting, such as its Premier League channel. Comcast will soon have a much larger international presence in these fields. It'll certainly help make up for losing Fox's entertainment assets to Disney in July.

For Fox, however, it's a serious blow. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation had been trying to snap up all of Sky over the past decade, but the phone hacking scandal at News International (where newspaper employees compromised phones in the name of stories) derailed that effort. After this defeat, it won't have Sky at all.

It's unclear how Comcast's takeover will affect either its efforts or Sky's at this stage. With that said, it's safe to presume there will be some harmonization between the two. That might be good if it leads to easier access to content on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, it's yet another example of a mega-merger -- Americans were already concerned about Comcast's size when it bought NBC, and now its empire will span across the ocean.

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