The auction process will officially begin Friday at 5 p.m. London time (12 p.m. ET).
As laid out by the U.K.’s takeover watchdog on Thursday, that process will take the form of three bids. Each must be submitted in British pounds, the Takeover Panel said.
In the first round, the company with the lowest bid — in this case Fox — can make an increased bid for Sky. Comcast then has the chance to increase its bid for Sky in the following round. If the auction procedure has not been concluded during that second round, it is then carried on into a third and final round.
During the evening of the following day, Saturday, the auction will come to a close and no more bids can be submitted.
It’s a highly unusual procedure for a deal as notable as the Sky acquisition. Takeover auctions are normally reserved for commercial transactions.
Macquarie’s Peddy said all eyes will be on Fox as the auction begins, as the corporation must launch the first salvo and, consequently, determine whether Comcast decides to raise its own offer.
“I think both players will probably argue they are in a good place,” he said. “I suppose you could argue that Fox have to kick it off.”
“So how they come out of the trap, so to speak, in the first round will dictate the level the bidding goes. Clearly, Comcast then have the ability to follow and then there’s a full and final offer.”