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Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Comcast has prevailed in a suspenseful settlement auction against 21st Century Fox for European Broadcaster Sky. Comcast submitted a £17.28 per share bid while Fox submitted a £15.67 per share bid. The auction ends a nearly two-year-long battle for Sky.

Why it matters: Sky reaches nearly 23 million pay-TV households across six European countries, which will help Comcast develop an international footprint to be able to take on some of the big tech streaming giants, like Netflix and Amazon.

How it went down: The UK Takeover panel announced that the deal would end in a Saturday auction unless either party submitted a final bid Friday. In the absence of a final offer, the auction took place over roughly eight hours Saturday, consisting of three rounds of bidding. Bids were submitted via email.

    • First, 21st Century Fox was allowed a chance to increase its bid, because it went into the auction with the lower offer.
    • Second, Comcast responded to Fox's offer.
    • Third, both parties were able to submit their best and final offers by 7:00 p.m. U.K. time. Comcast's bid was higher.

The back story: Auctions like this are unusual for settling a dealmaking process as large as this one, but it put an end to a lengthy battle for Sky that had been dragging on for nearly two years.

  • Fox first indicated interest for Sky in 2016. Comcast submitted a bid topping Fox's when it became clear they may not be able to win Fox's entertainment assets, which drive lots of international revenue, against Disney due to regulatory concerns.
  • Comcast submitted the highest bid so far back in July at $34 billion ($19.49 per share), topping Fox's latest bid of $32.5 billion ($18.60 per share). Both firms have gotten approval from regulators for the deal, although Fox's approval process was far more painful than Comcast's, due to the fact that the Murdoch family already owns many media properties in the U.K.
  • Fox currently owns a 39% stake in Sky, which it plans to sell to the Walt Disney Company upon completion of its merger back in the U.S. It would also sell off whatever stake it wins with Sky as a part of that deal.

The bigger picture: Fox still owns a 39% minority in Sky, which will go to the Walt Disney Company upon the completion of its acquisition of Fox's entertainment assets. Disney could potentially sell its minority stake to Comcast.

What's next? Both companies must post offer documents to shareholders next week.

Go deeper

Austria set to make COVID vaccines mandatory for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."