Comcast Aims High, Right Into 21st Century Fox, Disney and Sky Transaction

February 27, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) made a rather large business model change when it acquired NBC in two transactions over a multiyear period with Vivendi and General Electric. Now Comcast has decided to jump into the mix of another large media acquisition. Comcast is offering just over $30 billion to acquire Sky in a deal that would top the existing offer from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ: FOXA).

The move is aimed at consolidating ownership of the U.K. broadcasting network, with operations in Germany and Italy as well. The offer is said to be all-cash, and the £12.50 per share offer is said to be 16% better than the Fox offer. Comcast’s release signaled that this combination would bring attractive financial benefits to Comcast shareholders and that it would be accretive to Comcast’s free cash flow per share in the first year.

According to Comcast, the transaction would enhance the entertainment, distribution and technology leadership of Comcast. It also would expand Comcast’s international footprint to more effectively compete in the rapidly changing and intensely competitive entertainment and communications landscape. It would also raise Comcast’s international revenues by close to 150% and make it less dependent on the North American cable subscriber market.

Comcast shares were last seen down 5.7% at $37.31 on the news, in a 52-week trading range of $34.78 to $44.00. Its market cap is $173 billion.

21st Century Fox shares were down 2% to $38.03. The 52-week range is $24.81 to $39.14, and the market cap is $70 billion.

As a reminder, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) has a rather complicated $52 billion deal to acquire 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 billion in stock, and 21st Century Fox will spin off or sell certain broadcast assets into a New Fox company. That deal is not expected to close until late in 2018 or into 2019, and now a wrench has just been thrown in the middle of it. Disney shares were last seen down 2.9% at $106.58 on Tuesday, and it has a market cap of $160 billion.

In the past, $30 billion and $50 billion deals would have been considered deals of the century. Maybe even deals of a lifetime. Now, in the age of mega caps that aim to become even larger, they are becoming quite a bit more common.

London-based shares of Sky were last seen up 21% at 1,340p in London trading.

Brian Roberts, board chair and chief executive of Comcast, said of the deal:

We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany. Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming. It has great people and a very strong and capable management team.

Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe. We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s UK headquarters. Adding Sky to the Comcast family of businesses will increase our international revenues from 9% to 25% of company revenues.