What's going on?
It’s a three-way bidding war, involving four companies. Go figure. On Wednesday, 21st Century Fox upped its offer for UK broadcaster Sky to $32 billion (tweet this) – pulling the rug out from under previous highest bidder Comcast (not for the first time).
What does this mean?
Fox has offered about $18 per share to acquire the remaining 61% of Sky that it doesn’t already own, outbidding Comcast’s $16 offer. UK regulators have said they’re likely to approve Fox’s takeover (as long as Fox sells Sky’s news channel, ensuring the UK’s got enough independent news sources), which could make it the favorite to be cleared for takeoff. But some investors believe Sky’s worth as much as $24 per share, so perhaps the bidding war isn’t over. Comcast might yet retaliate with a higher-flying offer.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Everybody wants to be content king.
Companies in telecoms and media want to amass as much content as possible (remember when AT&T acquired Time Warner in June?) so they can compete with streaming services like YouTube and Netflix (and its blockbuster budget for original shows and films). Fox wants in on the healthy cash flow from Sky’s 23 million subscribers across Europe, which will help it to expand internationally. And Comcast likely wants to beef up its library in order to stem the flow of cord-cutting #millennials.
For markets: Yet another Fox-Comcast love triangle.
Warning: this is about to get meta. While Fox and Comcast tussle over Sky, Comcast and Disney are embroiled in their own bidding war to acquire Fox. So even if Comcast doesn’t get 61% of Sky, it may end up owning 39% if it beats Disney to the punch. Disney plans to launch its own online streaming service in 2019 and no doubt wants more content – including reuniting the X-Men and Fantastic Four with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (like Captain America, Iron Man and The Avengers). Pretty confusing, eh?