Sky could fetch almost £30billion as a bidding war between two of the world’s biggest media titans reaches a dramatic climax today.
Shares could go for up to £17 each as Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox fights Comcast for control of the broadcasting giant, analysts speculated.
That would value Sky – whose hit shows include Game of Thrones and Succession – at £29.2billion.
Sky, whose hit shows include Game of Thrones and Succession (pictured), could fetch £29.2bn
The battle, which has seen Sky’s shares more than double since Fox first made an approach two years ago, will be decided today in an auction.
The Takeover Panel was forced to set it up after neither side would declare their offer final.
It is the first time an auction has been used to decide a takeover struggle since Tata Steel and CSN fought it out for Corus in 2007.
Comcast has offered the most – at £14.75p a share, against Fox’s £14. The offers value the company at £26billion and £24billion respectively.
Analysts expect those sums to jump – possibly by more than £2 per share – in the sealed, cash-only bidding process.
Fox and Comcast will have three opportunities each to make an offer in the auction, after which an announcement will take place. Shareholders will have to approve the winner.
If Murdoch wins, Sky will eventually be owned by Disney, which has agreed to buy Fox for £54billion and is backing the bid. Fox is seeking to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own.
Fox and Comcast will have three opportunities each to make an offer in the auction
Steve Malcolm, analyst at Arete, said: ‘It is very hard to predict –financial logic went out the window a long time ago on this deal.
‘My sense is that Comcast is more committed and it has the deeper pockets – its balance sheet can absorb paying £16-£17 more easily than Disney.’ Other observers speculated a highest price of £17. Analysts at UBS said: ‘The Comcast offer is 1475p and we think investors see upside of 1600-1700p if an auction ensues.’
But Jefferies has a target price of £17.50 on the stock – suggesting they think the winning bid will be higher still. British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, whose firm is a shareholder in Sky, has said it should be valued at at least £18 a share.
Both Comcast and Fox are desperate to get hold of Sky’s European base and 23million customers to fight threats from Netflix and other internet broadcasters. But they will pay a high price. However, some analysts suggested £16 was the ceiling for the bid.
Guy Peddy, the head of European telecom research at Macquarie, said: ‘We think that is probably the fullest price for someone to pay.’ Gervais Williams, UK fund manager at Miton Group, which owns Sky stock, agreed.
And Roddy Davidson, who is a media analyst at Shore Capital, said: ‘The process has dragged on. So my speculation is that Comcast will come back with a higher bid and there may be a bit of gamesmanship.
‘Our view is that the offer price already bears very little relation to the fair value of Sky.
‘So it’s very difficult on the basis of conventional valuation to work out how things might go.’