Fox, Acting on Behalf of Disney, Sells Its Stake in Sky to Comcast

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Twenty-First Century Fox agreed to sell its 39 percent stake in the British broadcaster Sky to Comcast in a deal worth $15 billion, ending Rupert Murdoch’s yearslong ambition to take full ownership of the satellite service he helped found three decades ago. Murdoch, the executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, sold most of his empire to the Walt Disney Company this summer. The proceeds of the Sky sale will go to Disney, which plans to invest the money in its newest effort to sell its content directly to viewers via streaming services.

Comcast, led by Brian Roberts, beat out Murdoch in a one-day auction for Sky last weekend. The decision to sell Fox’s stake in Sky rested largely with Robert A. Iger, the chief executive of Disney, who could have put pressure on Roberts had he refused to tender the shares. Comcast needs more than 50 percent of Sky’s equity to complete its offer. Disney had aggressively pursued Sky, with Iger calling the British company a “crown jewel” of the Murdoch empire and describing its direct relationship with tens of millions of customers in Europe as a way to speed the introduction of Disney-branded streaming services. Disney also wanted to keep Sky out of the hands of one of its biggest competitors. With the sale of the Sky stake, along with the mandated divestitures of 22 regional sports networks owned by Fox, Disney will receive roughly $30 billion to pay down debt involved with its $71.3 billion purchase of Fox and invest in its streaming efforts.

Fox, Acting on Behalf of Disney, Sells Its Stake in Sky to Comcast (NYT) 21st Century Fox Plans to Sell Stake in Sky (B&C) Comcast will own all of Sky as Fox sells its stake for $15 billion (Vox)