Sky CEO hails results as Disney weighs increasing bid

US giants are battling for the bulk of Rupert Murdoch's empire. Photo: Jason Reed/AFP/Getty Images
US giants are battling for the bulk of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Photo: Jason Reed/AFP/Getty Images

Sky gave Disney another reason to consider bidding higher for Britain’s top pay-TV company, reporting full-year sales in line with analysts’ estimates as its customer base grew.

Disney CEO Bob Iger is weighing whether to trump Comcast’s £26bn (€29.2bn) offer for the broadcaster, part of a wider battle between the US giants for the bulk of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

“This business has got really good momentum,” said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch.

“Whatever the future holds for any of us, Sky is in a really good place.”

Disney and Comcast are both interested in Sky because it would help them diversify internationally and give them access to Sky’s highly-regarded set-top Q box technology and streaming service Now TV.

Sky has 23 million customers in five European countries and a suite of sought-after TV content, including rights to Premier League soccer and premium drama, which would be useful in the fight against online rivals such as Netflix and Amazon.

Whoever wins the tussle for Sky will inherit a growing business: full-year revenue was up 5pc to £13.59bn and Sky added over 500,000 customers in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The revenue figure was in line with the average of 17 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sky’s shares rose 0.1pc to £15.09 at 9.12 am in London, 2pc above Comcast’s offer price of £14.75 per share.

Mr Darroch declined to say whether he and chief financial Andrew Griffith would stay on at Sky after the takeover battle ends, saying it was too early to speculate.

“We haven’t had any of those conversations,” Mr Darroch said. “We’ll do that at the right time when one of the companies emerges.”

A Disney-backed 21st Century Fox bid for Sky – first announced by Fox in December 2016 and raised this month – is currently 6pc below Comcast’s rival offer.

Disney must give Fox consent to raise the bid, and Fox has until August 9 to formally put its offer to Sky’s shareholders.

Separately, Disney is in pole position to acquire most of Fox, including its existing 39pc stake in Sky, after Comcast signalled it would no longer pursue the bundle of Fox assets.

Those include Fox’s movie studio and cable networks FX and National Geographic.

Irish Independent

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