Comcast beats Fox with $39 billion bid for European pay-TV giant Sky

Comcast beats Fox with $39 billion bid for European pay-TV giant Sky

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LOS ANGELES — Comcast has beaten 21st Century Fox in the high-stakes auction of European pay-TV giant Sky, coming out on top Saturday with a bid of $39 billion. The victory paves the way for the U.S. cable giant to put a leading offer to Sky shareholders and, if it’s accepted, to bolster significantly its international operations at a time of mega-consolidation in the industry and of rising global powerhouses such as Netflix.

Comcast, which owns the parent company of NBC News, NBCUniversal, bid $22.59 per Sky ordinary share versus Fox’s $20.49 offer, which valued Sky at $32 billion. Comcast outbid Fox in a quick-fire shootout overseen by the U.K. Takeover Panel, which had ordered the unusual auction to end the prolonged stalemate between the two rival suitors. Both offers will be put to shareholders, who have until Oct. 11 to vote on them.

The auction’s outcome is sweet revenge for Comcast and CEO Brian Roberts, who were beaten by Disney in the tussle earlier this year for Fox’s entertainment assets, including Fox’s 39 percent stake in Sky. Roberts has called a Sky a “great business” that would complement his own media conglomerate, which already owns NBCUniversal and British production companies Working Title and Carnival Films (“Downton Abbey”). More important, adding Sky to Comcast’s stable will, at a stroke, boost international revenue from 9 percent to 25 percent of Comcast’s overall takings.

In Sky, Comcast would net a cutting-edge pay-TV service that boasts 23 million paying subscribers across Europe, in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Under CEO Jeremy Darroch, Sky has maintained its offering of premium soccer, and other sports; moved into producing original content for TV (“Riviera,” “Britannia”) and film; and developed state-of-the-art digital and technology products, such as SkyQ and the Now TV streaming service.

Absorbing Sky would turn Comcast into a European channels heavyweight, grouping Sky’s entertainment and sports channels, including Sky Atlantic (which has output deals with HBO and Showtime), with NBCUniversal International Networks’ brands, such as Universal, E! and Syfy. Sky also operates content sales businesses that would join NBCUniversal’s own London-based content sales business, which boasts a library of more than 4,000 movies and 100,000 episodes of television.

Comcast was a late entrant into the fray for Sky, which Fox and Rupert Murdoch have been trying to buy for years. With Fox’s pursuit mired in regulatory scrutiny and political opposition, Comcast mounted a surprise bid last February with a $31 billion offer, a 16 percent premium on Fox’s existing offer.

“We think Sky is an outstanding company,” Roberts said at the time, calling the pay-TV company “a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience,” with a “proud record of investment in news and programming” and a “very strong and capable management team.”

Going into the auction after having already upped its original offer, Comcast still had the richer bid on the table, which Sky’s board had recommended to its shareholders, at $19.28 per share, versus Fox’s $18.30. But only a fraction of Sky’s shareholders voted to go with either offer, with the vast majority preferring instead to wait for even higher bids to come through as the takeover process played itself out.

According to the auction rules set by the Takeover Panel, Fox, as the party with the lower outstanding bid, was the first to submit a sweetened offer. Comcast had a right to counter, with both suitors then given the opportunity in a third and decisive round to make a final, take-it-or-leave-it offer. In stark contrast to the normal bidding process, which has stretched out over months, Saturday’s showdown unfolded within a day.

Iran blames Gulf rivals for deadly Ahvaz attack

Iran blames Gulf rivals for deadly Ahvaz attack

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Iranian leaders have accused US-backed Gulf states of being behind an attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, including a child.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “puppets of the US” were trying to “create insecurity” in Iran.

Gunmen opened fire at Revolutionary Guard troops and officials in the south-western city of Ahvaz.

Earlier an anti-government Arab group, Ahvaz National Resistance, and Islamic State (IS) both claimed the attack.

However neither group provided evidence to show they were involved.

Earlier Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed “terrorists paid by a foreign regime”, adding that “Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable”.

Reports say nearly half of those killed were members of the Revolutionary Guard, who are under Mr Khamenei’s command.

Mr Khamenei did not name the “regional states” that he believed were behind the attack.

However Iran has previously accused its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, of supporting separatist activity amongst Iran’s Arab minority.

What happened?

Fars news agency said the attack started at 09:00 local time (06:30 BST), lasted about 10 minutes, and appeared to involve four gunmen.

The attackers fired at civilians and attempted to attack military officials on the podium, Fars reports.

Civilians including women and children, who were watching the military parade, were among those killed, Irna news agency said.

The victims included a four-year-old girl and a military veteran in a wheelchair, a military spokesman said.

Local journalist Behrad Ghasemi told AFP that firing continued for between 10 and 15 minutes and said at least one of the attackers was wearing a Revolutionary Guards uniform.

“First we thought it’s part of the parade, but after about 10 seconds we realised it was a terrorist attack as bodyguards [of officials] started shooting,” he said.

“Everything went haywire and soldiers started running. I saw a four-year old child get shot, and also a lady,” he added.

All four attackers were killed, state media said.

Iran is marking the anniversary of the beginning of the 1980-88 war with Iraq with several military parades across the nation.

How will the US react?

By Siavash Mehdi-Ardalan, BBC Persian

There have been two conflicting claims of responsibility: one from a low profile Arab militant group in Iran’s Khuzestan region and one from IS. It makes some difference.

The former would suggest a resurgence of separatist militancy after a seven-year lull. If it was IS, it would represent a failure by Iran’s intelligence community to prevent a second major IS attack in its soil.

Iran has not provided any evidence of foreign collusion but has vowed revenge. The Saudi reaction and more importantly the wording of the US administration’s response may prove important as leaders of all three countries are set for a possible diplomatic clash at the UN General Assembly next week.

Who is behind the attack?

There have been conflicting claims.

A spokesman for the Ahvaz National Resistance, an umbrella group that claims to defend the rights of the Arab minority in Khuzestan, said the group was behind the attack.

The spokesman did not say whether the group had links to other countries.

IS’s Amaq agency has also claimed it carried out the attack. However the group provided no evidence that it had been involved.

IS has carried out a major attack in Iran before. In June last year, suicide bombers attacked parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini, killing 18 people.

Iranian government and military officials have pointed the finger at Gulf states, the US and Israel, with all of whom Iran has longstanding tensions.

A Revolutionary Guards spokesman claimed the attackers were “trained and organised by two Gulf countries” and had ties to the US and Israel.

The US and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of supporting Houthi rebels in the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are fighting on the side of the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

2019: Nuhu Ribadu Joins Adamawa Governorship Race

2019: Nuhu Ribadu Joins Adamawa Governorship Race

A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, has joined the Adamawa State governorship race.

Mr Ribadu, who ran unsuccessfully for President in 2011, announced the decision in Yola, the Adamawa State capital on Saturday.

“I am overwhelmed and moved by the show of love and support I received from my people as I declared to run for the governorship of my state today in Yola. Nagode!!,” he tweeted afterward.

He plans to challenge incumbent Governor, Bindow Jibrilla, for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

His decision to join the race comes five days after the former EFCC boss met with President Muhammadu Buhari.

This is not the first time Ribadu will be in the race for Adamawa State’s top job.

In August 2014, he defected from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ran for governor.

But he failed to achieve his ambition as the APC swept to victory.

#OsunDecides: Police Impound 42 Motorcycles, 3 Buses For Flouting Movement Restriction

#OsunDecides: Police Impound 42 Motorcycles, 3 Buses For Flouting Movement Restriction

Police personnel on Saturday impounded 42 motorcycles and three buses during the Osun governorship election.

The motorcycles and buses were seized movement in Ikire Town, Osun State,
for violating the restriction of movement for the poll.

Confirming the seizure, the Election CP for Ikire division, Kayode Egbetokun, said the atmosphere in Ikire could be described as being peaceful throughout the voting exercise.

He said no one was arrested for thuggery or any fracas but the motorcycles and buses of those who violated the restriction order were seized until after the election.

He said, “No arrest was made yet in this jurisdiction. But a few people who flouted the restriction order had their cars and motorcycle impounded; 42 motorcycle and 3 buses are with us now.”

#OsunDecides: Police Impound 42 Motorcycles, 3 Buses For Flouting Movement Restriction

Egbetokun

Egbetokun said the seized items would be released to the owners after the election.

“So far everything is calm in this area; even the area where fighting was recorded, my official has restored peace to the area and we are on our toes now because this is the moment when we have to be extra vigilant to avoid ballot boxes being snatched,” he said.

“I can, however, assure you that we have beefed up the security in all areas.”

#OsunDecides: Police Impound 42 Motorcycles, 3 Buses For Flouting Movement Restriction

More seized bikes

INEC Warns Against Publication Of False Result

INEC Warns Against Publication Of False Result

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned against the publication of false result from the ongoing Osun governorship election.

INEC made the announcement on Saturday through its Twitter handle.

The commission said, “Announcing or Publishing a false election result is an offence. It’s a criminal offence punishable by a term of imprisonment.

“The official #OsunDecides2018 results will be uploaded on our platforms as declared by the Returning Officer”.

The commission also insisted that it has not completely banned the use of mobile phones at the polling units but rather at the polling booths.

” We can use the INEC eReporter App report incidences or any misconduct from the field during the #OsunDecides2018 election”.

Osinbajo Launches Collateral-Free Loans For Traders In Owerri

Osinbajo Launches Collateral-Free Loans For Traders In Owerri

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has launched the collateral free loan scheme for petty traders known as TraderMoni in Owerri, the Imo state capital.

TraderMoni, which is part of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme, is designed to assist petty traders across the country expand their trade through the provision of collateral and interest-free loans from N10,000. The loans are repayable over a period of six months.

The micro-credit scheme under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), was first formally launched on August 7 in five markets in Lagos State – Mushin, Ikotun, Agege, Ketu, and Abule Egba areas.

A statement by the spokesman of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, explains that the micro-credit scheme has since been formally launched in eight other states, including Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Osun, Kogi, Oyo, Cross River; and Abuja (Federal Capital Territory).

While the formal launch has been activated in nine states so far, disbursements have kicked off nationwide in every state.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries can get access to a higher facility ranging from N15,000 to N100,000 when they repay N10,000 within the stipulated time period.

Also, through TraderMoni scheme, the Buhari Administration aims to take financial inclusion down to the grassroots, and uplift Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid, considering the contribution of petty traders to economic development.

The Federal Government is also aware of the fact that many of the petty traders don’t have what the commercial banks require to grant them loans.

Petty traders from across the states have continued to laud the Buhari administration for helping them in expanding their trade and empowering them economically.

By the end of 2018, the micro-credit scheme would have reached all 36 states of the federation, with an estimated two million petty traders set to become beneficiaries.

Fact sheet: States where TraderMoni has been formally launched.

• Lagos (August 7)
• Kano (August 18)
• Abia (August 20)
• Akwa Ibom (August 21)
• Katsina (September 1)
• Osun (September 3)
• Kogi (September 8)
• Cross River (Sept 12)
• Oyo (Sept 13)
• Abuja (September 19)