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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Comcast won the bid for European broadcaster Sky after a rare auction held by British regulators.
After three rounds of secret bidding on Friday and Saturday, Comcast offered the higher price of $22.58 per share for Sky, the equivalent of nearly $39 billion. They beat out rival 21st Century Fox who offered $20.47 per share.
“This is a great day for Comcast,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement Saturday when they announced their coup.
In a statement, Sky recommended that shareholders accept Comcast’s offer and sell their shares immediately. Comcast said it hoped to complete the takeover by the end of October.
“Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team,” Roberts added. “This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”
Philadelphia-based Comcast is one of the largest cable television providers in the U.S. Around 29 million customers get cable television, internet access, and other services from Comcast.
Britain’s regulator, the Takeover Panel, set up the auction to reduce uncertainty for Sky after months of offers and counteroffers from the American media giants. Sky is Europe’s largest pay-television operator, with 22.5 million customers in seven countries and popular programming including English Premier League soccer and “Game of Thrones.”
Fox owns 39 percent of Sky. It now must decide whether to sell its stake or remain a minority shareholder.
Fox had long been trying to acquire the 61 percent of Sky it doesn’t already own. Fox founder Rupert Murdoch’s last bid sank amid a 2011 phone-hacking scandal, in which journalists working for Murdoch newspapers were accused of gaining illegal access to the voicemail messages of crime victims, celebrities and members of the royal family.
Last December, Comcast dropped out of a bidding race against the Walt Disney Co. for Fox’s entertainment assets.
Now, Walt Disney Co. is currently in the process of buying their assets for $71 billion.
Its winning bid came at a steep price. Comcast initially made a $31 billion bid for Sky last February, then raised that bid to $34 billion in July.
British regulators organized the rare auction in part to ensure that Sky’s value didn’t erode during the long bidding process.
It’s been 11 years since an auction such as this one took place. In 2007, Tata beat out CSN to buy Britain’s Corus, creating what at the time was one of the world’s top five steelmakers.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)