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European deals: Fox sweetens Sky offer; Qualcomm raises NXP bid

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23.

TOP NEWS

* 21st Century Fox Inc. has offered to extend its commitment to fund Sky News (UK) to at least 10 years, in a bid to satisfy regulatory concerns over its proposed £11.7 billion takeover of British pay TV giant Sky plc. In a letter to the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority, Fox said it would fund a "Sky-branded news service" at the current level for five years, then extend it to five more years "at a level to be determined at the time." The new proposal is an improvement on Fox's earlier offer of "firewall remedies" at Sky News. The 10-year funding guarantee also matches a similar commitment by Murdoch-owned News Corp. in 2011 when it offered to buy the remaining stake in Sky that it did not own, London's The Daily Telegraph reported Feb. 20. That deal, however, collapsed following the phone-hacking scandal at the now-defunct newspaper News of the World.

* Qualcomm Inc. raised its offer for NXP Semiconductors NV to $127.50 per share from $110.0 per share initially agreed in October 2016, in a $43.23 billion bid that comes as it seeks to fend off a hostile takeover bid by Broadcom Ltd. Qualcomm said Feb. 20 that the increased price, which it intends to fund with cash and new debt, reflected factors including NXP's 2017 results. The amended agreement, approved by the Qualcomm and NXP boards, also lowers the minimum tender condition from 80% of NXP's outstanding shares to 70%. In addition, Qualcomm River Holdings BV's tender offer for NXP shares will be extended to the end of March 5 ET. The increased offer came after Broadcom raised its bid for Qualcomm to about $121 billion earlier in February, saying that its offer depended on Qualcomm's accquiring NXP at $110 per share or dropping the deal. Qualcomm had earlier rejected Broadcom's unsolicited proposal. The transaction remains contingent on clearance from the Ministry of Commerce in China, which Qualcomm is optimistic it will receive in the near term.

* As a result of the increased offer, Broadcom trimmed its hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm to $79 per share, saying it remains committed to buying the U.S. chipmaker. The revised offer, which consists of $57 in cash and $22 in Broadcom shares, would be sweetened by $3 should Qualcomm fail to complete its NXP acquisition, according to a news release. In a statement released later Feb. 21, Qualcomm defended its bid for NXP and criticized Broadcom's new offer.

M&A Media

* As expected, U.S. investment firm General Atlantic LLC acquired a 25.1% stake in NuCom Group, in which ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE bundles its e-commerce activities, ProSiebenSat.1 said Feb. 22. The transaction is based on an enterprise value of €1.8 billion. Through the partnership, the company wants to accelerate growth of its e-commerce business and drive further expansion into new markets. General Atlantic is among a small field of companies that offered to buy a stake in ProSiebenSat.1's e-commerce portfolio, which includes dating, perfume and energy price comparison websites, Reuters reported Feb. 19, citing sources.

* Ireland-based Accenture plc has completed its acquisition of German visual effects and 3D imagery specialist MACKEVISION Medien Design GmbH. The professional services firm said Feb. 19 that the acquisition will add state-of-the-art visualization capabilities to its digital services portfolio.

* Modern Times Group AB agreed to sell 95% of its shares in its Bulgarian unit NOVA Broadcasting Group AD to investment firm PPF Group NV for €185 million. The transaction values 100% of the business, according to a Feb. 19 news release. MTG will use the proceeds from the deal to invest in its Nordic Entertainment and Studios units, as well as its global digital entertainment businesses. The company also intends to focus on these verticals moving forward.