Sky’s share price steadily rose ahead of the auction and surged as high as £15.96 ($20.86) on Friday. The stock movement indicates investors were expecting a higher takeover bid than previous advances, with some analysts suggesting the companies could place offers of £16 per share ($20.92) or more. Prior to the auction, Comcast’s highest offer for Sky was £14.75 a share ($19.28), while Fox’s highest offer trailed behind at £14 a share ($18.30).
The blind auction format is a highly unusual one for a deal as notable as the Sky acquisition. Takeover auctions are normally reserved for commercial transactions. In such auctions, bidders submit sealed offers to a third-party arbiter.
Once the bidding closes, both Fox and Comcast will be required to make an announcement of their revised offer for Sky by Monday. The firms must then release a formal offer document on or before Thursday. It is then down to Sky’s board and shareholders to accept either offer, the deadline for that being October 11.
While the highest final offer is likely to be revealed Saturday, the new owner won’t be confirmed until Sky shareholders decide which bid to accept.
— Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.