Comcast and Verizon linked with bids for Fox's Sky share

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Reports claim Comcast and Verizon are looking to acquire a number of units from 21st Century Fox including its film and TV studios and its share in UK media firm Sky

21st Century Fox’s bid to take full control of Sky has taken another twist, with both Comcast and Verizon reportedly interested in acquiring Fox’s existing stake in the UK broadcaster among other assets.

Reports in the US claim both Comcast and Verizon are exploring bids to buy a number of Fox asset, including its movie and TV production arm and its stake in Sky.

Reuters reports that Comcast has already held earl-stage talks with the Rupert Murdoch-owned company over a deal, while Verizon has also expressed an interest, according to the newswire’s sources.

Fox is currently bidding to take full control of Sky in a £11.7 billion deal which has become the subject of regulatory scrutiny over Murdoch’s – who also owns the Sun and Times newspapers – level of influence.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month outlined its probe into the Fox takeover bid, saying it would assess how a deal will impact media plurality and broadcasting standards in the UK. In response, Sky warned it could close Sky News should regulators block the acquisition.

Disney is another name that has been linked with a bid to buy Fox’s stake in Sky and other assets, according to reports, though talks reportedly ended a few weeks ago. Liberty Media chairman John Malone said the deal would be “a logical thing for them to be studying” in an interview with CNBC.

This all comes on a backdrop of notable merger talks in the US, with AT&T currently in talks with regulators over its bid to buy Time Warner. That bid faces being blocked by the Justice Department, according to reports.

Acquiring Fox would vault Verizon into the entertainment business and give it a content platform to compete with a merged AT&T/Time Warner, though antitrust officials have expressed concerns over this merger, which could also lead to doubts about any other tie-ups.