Comcast pays big to go internationalOver the weekend, Comcast beat 21st Century Fox in an auction to acquire the British broadcaster Sky, with a $39 billion bid. It caps nearly two years of takeover drama, and the company’s trans-European reach gives Comcast a way to expand outside the U.S.
But did Comcast overpay for the privilege?
Sky shareholders certainly did well: They’ll get £17.28 a share, 61 percent more than Fox’s initial bid in 2016. “It’s going to be incredibly hard to justify having paid such a high price,” the analyst Craig Moffett told Bloomberg.
Here’s Andrew’s take on how Brian Roberts, the C.E.O. of Comcast, played the situation:
Mr. Robert’s maneuverings could one day prove to be a case study in tactical deal making. His move to buy most of Fox forced Disney to raise its bid for those assets so much that when it came time to compete for Sky, Disney had a hard time bidding against Comcast without overleveraging itself. Time will tell whether the Sky deal proves successful — but if scored simply on the dark arts of deal making, Mr. Roberts already won.Disclosure: Andrew is an anchor on CNBC, part of Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit.
We’ll see whether Disney ends up selling Fox’s stake in Sky to Comcast. That’s likely, or else Disney risks being a minority owner with little influence. There has also been speculation that Comcast could sell its stake in Hulu to Disney as part of a swap, but that makes little sense for now.
The trade war heats upOvernight, the U.S. imposed new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. They start at 10 percent, rising to 25 percent in January.
Corporate America wants you to voteMany C.E.O.s have become outspoken on politics during Donald Trump’s presidency. Now nearly 150 companies, including Walmart, Patagonia and Lyft, will prod Americans into voting at the midterms.
Patagonia’s Rose Marcario told the NYT: “This is about recognizing that a vibrant democracy relies on engaged citizens voting, and that business can play a vital role by removing barriers.”
Coming upInternational trade talks come to New York. The E.U. trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom will meet with the U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and Japan’s minister for economy, trade and industry, Hiroshige Seko, over the next two days.
The U.N. General Assembly kicks off today. President Trump’s advisers worry that he may be overly enthusiastic about engaging with adversaries like Iran and North Korea.
The European Parliament will vote on policies that could affect post-Brexit banking today. They’re looking at changes to how services are provided within the E.U. from nonmember countries.
Not coming to Apple’s TV service: sex or violenceThe iPhone maker has long promised to enter the streaming wars. But when it does, it won’t accept much swearing, violence, sex, religion or politics. A series loosely based on the life of Dr. Dre, who sold Beats to the company, didn’t pass muster, and don’t expect the next “Game of Thrones.”
More from Tripp Mickle and Joe Flint of the WSJ:
Recently, Apple initially expressed interest when it was pitched a politically charged show about a college ombudsman in the era of #MeToo, featuring comedian Whitney Cummings and the producer behind the Fox hit “Empire,” Lee Daniels. Apple subsequently sent word there was concern about the sensitive topics, and the sides had differing opinions on the show’s direction.
The show is now in talks to end up at Amazon.
The new race to plant flags in AfricaChinese companies were early to lock up natural resources in Africa. But businesses from other non-Western countries, from Turkey to India, now hope to stake claims.
This time, African leaders are largely eager to court new suitors. Here’s what the development economist Carlos Lopes told the FT:
“It gives Africans much more room to maneuver,” he says. “The level of ambition from leaders has gone up very much in response to these incentives to do more with infrastructure and financing and to dare defy western pressure. They are finding it very exciting.”The U.S. and Europe are spooked. Their influence has slipped in Africa in recent years, and now they are again scrambling to catch up.
Amazon looks a lot like a regular retailerSteven Sinofsky, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, wrote a thoughtful blog post late last week about Amazon’s successes. His conclusion: nothing new there.
• Amazon’s Prime membership? “Sears famously had a credit card,” Mr. Sinofsky writes. “People would finance purchases that way and be part of special promos and incentives.”
• Promoting products via search ranking? That’s plain old advertising.
“What we’re seeing in Amazon is innovation for sure,” Mr. Sinofsky writes. “But it is on a trajectory that retail has seemingly followed every generation.”
Revolving doorDealBook exclusive: Five former executives from Sard Verbinnen — Brandy Bergman, Hugh Burns, Paul Caminiti, Delia Cannan and Renée Soto — have started Reevemark, a new public relations firm. It will focus on matters like M.&A., shareholder activism and crises like litigation.
BT Group is reportedly in talks to hire Philip Jansen, the co-C.E.O. of Worldpay, as its next C.E.O.
Norwegian Air Shuttle has reportedly begun looking for a successor to its C.E.O., Bjorn Kjos.
The speed readDeals
• Barrick Gold agreed to buy Randgold in a $7.8 billion deal. (WSJ)
• Dell is reportedly planning to interview banks for an I.P.O., as a backup to its plan to go public by buying out holders of its tracking stock. (WSJ)
• Saudi Aramco’s C.E.O. defended the oil giant’s effort to buy a majority stake in Sabic, the chemical producer. (FT)
• America’s alternative to Libor, the bank interest rate standard, is gaining traction. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
• Jared Kushner has become the Trump administration’s envoy to traditional Republican megadonors. (Politico)
• The Senate hearing featuring Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses him of sexual assault, is scheduled for Thursday. A second woman is alleging sexual misconduct. (Plus: How Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination went from boon to burden for Republicans.)
• App-only banks like Monzo are taking off in Europe. (NYT)
• How Amazon uses Seattle to test technology. (NYT)
• Where are China’s best autonomous cars? Silicon Valley. (Bloomberg)
• Google’s C.E.O., Sundar Pichai, insists that its search results are not politically biased. (NYT)
• Boston Dynamics’ robots are impressive. But can they be profitable? (NYT)
• A new media organization called The Markup will focus on investigating Big Tech. (NYT)
Best of the rest
• His work for Theranos and Harvey Weinstein hasn’t stopped lawyers admiring David Boies. (NYT)