The antitrust unit of the European Commission provided Comcast with an unconditional approval of its bid to acquire pay-TV giant Sky for the equivalent of $29.35 billion, having demanded no concessions from the American cable firm. The amount of competition that the transaction would eliminate from the TV content market would be marginal, with the proposed tie-up hence not raising significant antitrust concerns, the European regulator said Friday.
Comcast launched its bid for Sky in April, signaling the beginning of a bidding war with 21st Century Fox which already owns a 39-percent stake in the pay-TV group. Separately, the Murdoch family-owned entertainment conglomerate found itself in the middle of a bidding war as well; after agreeing to be acquired by Disney, Fox received another bid the majority of its assets from Comcast, with the American cable juggernaut offering $65 billion in cash for the firm earlier this week, trumping Disneys' $52.4 billion all-stock bid. The fight for Sky is even more complicated in the context of a late 2016 proposal from Fox which attempted to take over the rest of the firm's shares and purchase a controlling stake in the pay-TV giant but ended up being rejected after Comcast's aforementioned April bid which almost doubled Fox's offer.
Fox still hasn't responded to Comcast's approach in an official capacity, save for acknowledging that it received the bid earlier this week. Disney is likely to attempt outbidding the cable company as both are trying to expand their media empires, though Comcast may have more troubles wrapping up the consolidation due to the fact that Fox is its direct competitor in the cable market. Acquiring a controlling stake in Sky itself would provide Comcast with a much larger international footprint, allowing it to become less reliant on its American operations, particularly those that are presently on the decline due to cord-cutting, a trend that no country embraced so vigorously as the United States. Several days back, AT&T signaled the start of a major wireless-media merger wave after successfully defending its $85.6 billion Time Warner takeover from an antitrust lawsuit launched by the Justice Department.