Comcast and Verizon explore bids for 21st Century Fox's stake in Sky

Oliver Gill
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Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, is the US' largest cable TV provider (Source: Getty)

Sky shares led the FTSE 100 this morning after hints two US media giants could be about to battle it out to buy 21st Century Fox’s interest in Sky among other assets.

Shares in Sky were up 2.7 per cent at 927.2p in lunchtime trading after the Wall Street Journal reported last night that Comcast and Verizon Communications have both expressed an interest in the UK media giant alongside Fox’s movie and TV production studios and cable network National Geographic.

21st Century Fox shares leapt over eight per cent in after-hours US trading following the reports last night.

Comcast is in early-stage discussions with the Rupert Murdoch-owned company, sources told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Verizon has started to explore a deal, another source said.

21st Century Fox, Comcast and Verizon all declined requests to comment from Reuters.

Read more: Fox-Sky takeover given more competition hurdles to clear

The approaches come as sources also told the news agency the US government is preparing a legal challenge to block AT&T’s $85.4bn (£64.7bn) takeover of Time Warner.

Comcast, which bought NBC Universal in 2011, is already the largest cable provider in the US - but buying the 21st Century Fox assets, which also include India’s Star network, will create a huge international distribution footprint for the company.

21st Century Fox’s attempt to buy the 61 per cent of Sky shares it does not own is currently on hiatus as the one-year anniversary of the deal announcement approaches.

The UK government has asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to perform a more detailed probe into the fall-out of the deal. The CMA is expected to report back next year.

Read more: AT&T wins European approval for $85bn Time Warner deal

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