Days after Comcast Corp. succeeded in the winning $39 billion bid for a majority stake in Sky against 21st Century Fox, now Fox wants to get out of the business entirely -- selling its minority stake to Comcast.
“In light of the premium Comcast has
agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21st Century Fox’s existing 39% holding in Sky to Comcast,” Fox said in a statement.
Fox’s longtime 39% holding in the satellite TV programmer is valued at around $15 billion in a deal with Comcast, according to media estimates. Comcast won the majority 61% stake for $39 billion after a 24-hour U.K. bidding process.
In a separate press release, Bob Iger, chairman-CEO, Walt Disney, put a positive spin on the loss. He cited the billions in cost savings that would come after its deal to acquire half of Fox TV/movie businesses for $71.3 billion:
“Along with the net proceeds from the divestiture of the RSNs [Fox’s regional sports networks], the sale of Fox’s Sky holdings will substantially reduce the cost of our overall acquisition and allow us to aggressively invest in building and creating high-quality content for our direct-to-consumer platforms to meet the growing demands of viewers.”
Sky was launched in 1989 by Fox -- which then cut back its stake to 39% in 1990 through a 50-50 merger with satellite TV programming competitor British Satellite Broadcasting. (It then created BSkyB, later to be called Sky.)
There is now media speculation that Comcast may look to sell its 30% minority share in premium digital video platform Hulu to Disney -- a majority owner in the service.
With Disney buying Fox’s Hulu share as part of its overall deal, Disney now has a 60% majority stake. Time Warner (now AT&T’s WarnerMedia) owns the other 10%. Previously Disney, Comcast and Fox each owned 30% shares in Hulu, with Time Warner owning 10%.