United States cable giant Comcast outbid Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in a blind auction for the European TV operator Sky on Saturday that all but settled a titanic battle between the two media empires.
Comcast has won the long-running battle for control of Sky after beating Fox with a £30 billion bid for the broadcaster. But that was not the case, and Sky's independent committee, which includes Darroch and other senior executives, has backed the Comcast offer.
Comcast's knock-out offer thwarted Murdoch's long-held ambition to win control of Sky, and is also a setback for USA entertainment giant Walt Disney (DIS.N) which would have likely been its ultimate owner. Deep-pocketed firms like Netflix and Amazon have eye-popping budgets and are pouring money into media production and streaming rights.
"This is a great day for Comcast", he said.
"Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team", Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, said.
A couple of years ago Comcast could have bought Netflix for US$50 billion - a company that today is capitalised at more than US$150 billion.
Comcast said it hoped to complete the takeover by the end of October.
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Robey Warshaw declined to comment. Sky is Europe's largest pay-television operator, with 22.5 million customers in seven countries and popular programming including English Premier League soccer and Game of Thrones.
Sky also has original TV productions, such as the 1920s sex-and-crime saga "Babylon Berlin" and "Britannia", a period drama about the Roman conquest of Britain. Now, Disney will need to decide whether it will sell it's 39 per cent stake to Comcast, or if it will remain a minority partner, latimes.com reported.
What sort of business is Comcast?
Adding Sky would mean Comcast generates a fourth of its sales outside of the USA, up from 9 per cent now. Comcast estimates that owning Sky will create US$500-million in synergies, partly through selling Sky content in the United States and NBC programming in Europe. It would also represent a victory in Comcast's chequered history of dealmaking.
That deal will bring Disney franchises such as the X-Men and hit shows like The Simpsons.
Comcast's repeated overtures forced Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger to spend almost $18 billion more than he initially planned, or $71.3 billion, to purchase the Fox assets. The loss of Sky partly stymies Disney CEO Bob Iger's goal of establishing more direct ties to consumers and expanding his global business.