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6 things to know about Comcast's bid for Sky

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Comcast (CMSCA) on Tuesday threw a big wrench into 21st Century Fox's (FOXA) long-running -- and so far frustrated -- plans to take full ownership of U.K. pay-TV and content provider Sky. Comcast made its own unsolicited $31 billion (22 billion pounds) offer for all of Sky.  

Let's take a closer look at this latest dramatic media megadeal.

  1. What's going on -- Comcast has offered 12.5 pounds per share for Sky, Europe's largest pay-TV service. That trumps an earlier offer from Fox, which is controlled by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, that valued Sky at 10.75 pounds per share. Regulators in the U.K. have opposed Fox's takeover of Sky because of concerns about Murdoch's influence in the country, where he owns several national newspapers.

  2. Bidding war? -- Shares of Sky surged more than 20 percent to 13.31 pounds on Tuesday, topping Comcast's offer, indicating that investors expect a bidding war. U.S. shareholders greeted news of the potential Comcast-Sky deal with skepticism. Shares of Comcast fell 7.4 percent to $36.66, its biggest decline since 2011. Disney (DIS), which is in the midst of buying a portfolio of Fox entertainment assets, dropped 4.5 percent to $104.87. And Fox jumped 3 percent to $37.63. "Comcast will have to twist themselves into knots to explain why satellite distribution won't be just as obsolete in Europe as it already is in the U.S.," MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett told Bloomberg.

  3. European growth -- If the deal is successful, Comcast would gain a huge foothold in Europe, where Sky has 23 million subscribers in the U.K., Italy, Ireland, Germany and Austria, at a time when U.S. regulators have thwarted its expansion efforts domestically. According to Comcast, adding Sky would increase international revenue from 9 percent of overall sales to 25 percent. Disney also is eager to expand its overseas business.

  4. Premier League -- Sky has the broadcast rights for the English Premier League soccer games, which are increasingly popular with U.S. fans. American media companies including Comcast, Fox and Disney are increasingly reliant on sports programming to draw a mass audience in an increasingly fractured media environment.

  5. Deal fever -- Under CEO Brian Roberts, Philadelphia-based Comcast has grown through acquisitions, such as its 2001 purchase of what was at the time the largest cable-TV operator, AT&T Broadband, beating rival bids from AOL Time Warner (TWX) and Cox Communications. Comcast and Time Warner Cable acquired rival Adelphia for $17.6 billion in 2005. And Comcast spent about $50 billion acquiring NBC Universal in a deal that closed in 2013.

  6. Growth challenges -- Comcast, whose holdings include the NBC broadcast network, Universal Pictures and theme parks, scrapped plans in 2015 to acquire rival cable operator Time Warner Cable amid opposition from regulators. A decade earlier, Comcast stunned the investing world when it made an unsolicited $54 billion for Disney, which Mickey Mouse's corporate parent rejected.   

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