Four days after losing an auction with Comcast for control of Sky, 21st Century Fox has decided to sell Comcast its 39 percent stake in the European media giant in a deal valued at more than $15 billion.
“In light of the premium Comcast has agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21CF’s existing 39% holding in Sky to Comcast. We congratulate Comcast on their pending acquisition,” Fox said today in a statement. “We are proud of the role our company has played in building Sky, and of the outstanding value we have delivered for shareholders of 21CF and Sky, and customers across Europe.”
In Saturday’s auction for the remaining 61 percent stake in Sky, Comcast came out on top with a $39 billion bid, easily besting Fox’s $32 billion offer. The auction, which was run by the U.K. Takeover Panel, was the first of its kind in a decade.
Fox had been pursuing the Sky stake it didn’t already own since December 2016.
Two months ago, Comcast officially bowed out of battling Disney for 21st Century Fox, declining to counter Disney’s $71.3 billion bid for Fox. Instead, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts decided to focus his efforts on securing Sky.
The European media behemoth had been an essential piece of Disney’s and Comcast’s interest in Fox. Sky creates content that it can distribute to its 23 million satellite and broadcast customers in five countries. Control of that company would extend both Disney’s and Comcast’s global presence and fortify their efforts to compete internationally with companies like Netflix.
Fox’s 2016 bid kicked off an arduous U.K. government review over concerns that the deal would give 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch too much control over British news media.
Earlier this year, Fox agreed to sell all of Sky’s news operations to Disney (or Comcast, if that company had ended up prevailing), which is what finally secured the U.K.’s approval for the deal.
As the regulatory process dragged on, Comcast entered the fray in February with a Sky bid of its own. Comcast, which had no European media ownership conflicts, has already received U.K. government approval.
Comcast sees Sky as a way to achieve some of the scale and global reach it had been pursuing via Fox.