Comcast outbids Fox in a $39 billion takeover of Sky

Comcast outbid Twenty-First Century Fox in a $39 billion takeover of British broadcaster Sky after submitting a much higher bid in a three-round auction that took place on Saturday.

Comcast offered £17.28 per share, while the price offered by Fox was £15.67 per share, according to an official statement from the Takeover Panel.

This follows an elongated bidding battle between two of America’s largest media companies over the coveted overseas competitor.

A person close to the process told CNBC Saturday that Comcast wanted to ensure the company had paid enough of a premium over Disney’s bid to sway shareholders inclined to go with Fox/Disney, based on their existing 39 percent stake in Sky.

Meanwhile, a separate source familiar with Comcast’s thinking told CNBC believes Disney may even sell its 39 percent stake at the same price.

The blind auction format is a highly unusual one for a deal as notable as the Sky acquisition. Takeover auctions are normally reserved for commercial transactions. In such auctions, bidders submit sealed offers to a third-party arbiter.

Now that the bidding has closed, both Fox and Comcast will be required to make an announcement of their revised offer for Sky by Monday. The firms must then release a formal offer document on or before Thursday. It is then down to Sky’s board and shareholders to accept either offer, the deadline for that being October 11.

While Comcast has emerged as the winner with the highest final offer, the new owner won’t be confirmed until the shareholders of Sky shareholders which offer to accept.

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CNBC reported Thursday that Comcast was expecting Fox to raise its bid for Sky to boost the eventual offer price.