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Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox relinquishes control of Sky after bidding war

PUBLISHED: 16:55 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 26 September 2018

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is selling its stake in Sky to Comcast. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is selling its stake in Sky to Comcast. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Archant

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox (21CF) is ending a 30-year relationship with Sky as it sells its 39% stake in the broadcaster to Comcast.

Fox said that following Comcast’s victory in a £30bn bidding war over the British broadcaster, it would either accept the US cable giant’s offer or sell its stake at the offer price of £17.28.

It means that the Murdoch family will relinquish their holding in Sky.

Following the news, Sky boss Jeremy Darroch said: “Nearly 30 years ago Rupert Murdoch took a risk to launch Sky and in the process changed the way we watch television forever.

“His vision and belief has enabled us to grow into Europe’s leading direct to consumer media business and I would like to personally thank him, (son) James and 21CF for their consistent support as shareholders, board members and friends.

“On behalf of all our employees I would also like to thank James for his chairmanship as we have transformed Sky over the past decade. With 21CF announcing its intention to sell its shares to Comcast we close one chapter while simultaneously opening another. Our aim is to make the next 30 years as exciting for customers, colleagues and all our stakeholders.”

Comcast’s victory means that Mr Murdoch has failed for a second time to gain full control of Sky.

But since Fox made its first bid nearly two years ago, it has agreed to sell a major chunk of its business – including its existing 39% Sky stake – to Walt Disney, which has rubber stamped the sale to Comcast.

Offloading the stake will net the firm around £11.6bn.

Comcast boss Brian Roberts had said he was prepared to jointly own Sky, but Fox’s decision clears the path for the US firm to seize full control of the pay-TV giant.

On Saturday evening, Comcast won the long-running battle for control of the broadcaster, beating Fox’s £15.67 per share offer after the auction went to the maximum three rounds.

Comcast owns NBC Universal and is the largest cable operator in the US.

With the Sky takeover, Comcast will become the biggest pay-TV provider in the world, with around 52 million customers after adding Sky’s 23 million subscribers.

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