Comcast Closes Deal for Fox's Sky Holding, Giving It Majority Stake

Brian Roberts
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Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts

Comcast now owns more than 75 percent of Sky, with chairman James Murdoch, Chase Carey and others resigning from the board.

21st Century Fox has completed the sale of its 39 percent stake in Sky to Comcast, which won a September auction for the European pay TV giant. 

Comcast said Tuesday it now owns more than 75 percent of Sky shares tendered to satisfy a condition of its mandatory offer for the European pay TV giant, which remains open to further share buys.

"We are pleased today to be the majority owner of Sky," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "Led by Jeremy Darroch and his superb team — now together with Comcast — our combined global leadership in technology and content paves the way for us to accelerate investment and growth in Sky’s brand and premier platforms.  We are also fully committed to ensuring Sky News' future, maintaining its editorial independence, and preserving its strong track record for trusted, high quality, impartial news."

With Comcast's Sky offer now being made unconditional, James Murdoch and Martin Gilbert, the outgoing chairman of independent committee of Sky, have resigned from the Sky board, as have John Nallen, Chase Carey, Andy Sukawaty, Tracy Clarke and Katrin Wehr-Seiter. 

"We congratulate Comcast on reaching completion of its acquisition of Sky, and continue to advise that those shareholders who have not yet tendered into the recommended Comcast offer should do so immediately," Gilbert said in a statement.

Matthieu Pigasse and Adine Grate will remain on the Sky board for the time being, the European pay-TV player said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

When Fox recently unveiled its plan to sell the holding, the stake was worth 11.6 billion pounds, or more than $15 billion. Walt Disney, which has agreed to acquire large parts of Fox, consented to the sale, which will allow it to boost its financials and investment in a planned streaming video service.

Jeremy Darroch, group CEO of Sky, in his own statement said Comcast remains committed to investing in his company. "Separately, Sky News will benefit greatly from Comcast’s funding commitments over the coming years and the arrangements that will be put in place to preserve and enhance its editorial independence," he added.

Fox's stake sale allows Comcast to take full ownership of Sky. Comcast, led by chairman and CEO Roberts, won the auction for Sky with a $22.60 per-share bid, valuing Sky at 29.7 billion pounds ($38.8 billion).

Comcast said it will give 14 days notice on canceling its mandatory offer. And should it get to 90 percent acceptance of its offer for Sky shares, the U.S. cable group will use a regulatory measure to "acquire compulsorily any Sky shares not acquired or agreed to be acquired by on behalf of Comcast Bidco pursuant to the mandatory offer," the company said.

Comcast in July bowed out of a separate showdown with Disney for a large chunk of Fox, which let Disney win the bidding war with an offer of $71.3 billion. Comcast said it would instead concentrate on Sky.