Comcast's takeover bid for Sky has propelled the value of the Brentford-based firm ahead of arch-rival BT.
Sky shares surged last week after the owner of Universal and CNBC lodged a £12.50 a share offer, a significant premium to the long-standing £10.75 on the table from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
While stock markets valued BT at £23.4bn at the end of the week, Sky was worth £23.6bn; having swelled by more than a fifth.
Sensing a counter-bid from Murdoch was in the offing, Sky shares closed at £13.73 on Friday. Media experts are widely expecting a bidding war. Meanwhile, analysts from Jefferies hiked their target price for Sky to £16 a share.
Comcast has hired magic circle firm Freshfields to help advise on regulatory matters. Its offer, however, is not expected to face the same level of regulatory scrutiny as Fox. Comcast has a limited footprint in Europe and no links to UK news outlets that would trigger an in-depth probe by British authorities. Instead, the European Commission may simply be asked to opine on Comcast’s approach for Sky – a process that can take as little as 25 days.
BT shares sunk over three per cent last week, continuing a slide downwards that began in mid-January. The market value the telecoms giant is languishing at lows last seen at the end of 2012. It is facing a battle to make changes to its pension scheme and has already been forced back to the drawing board once.
Both firms were seen as winners from the most recent auction of Premier League football TV rights, as the world’s most popular league failed to realise significant growth in UK rights money.