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FB Roundup: Comcast, Mars, and IKEA

Comcast bids $65 billion for chunk of Murdoch empire, Mars on a pet care spend up, and IKEA takes India

Comcast bids $65 billion for chunk of Murdoch empire

Comcast has offered $65 billion to buy the majority of 21st Century Fox’s business, in what would be the largest-ever cash deal.

The Roberts family own 33% of Comcast’s voting stock, and 1% of its common stock, while 21st Century Fox (21CF) is controlled by the Murdoch family, who own 39% of the voting stock and 17% of the equity.

The offer from Comcast is for all of 21CF apart from Fox News. 21CF was considering the offer, having rebuffed a previous offer of $60 billion made by Comcast last year. 21CF’s board had been set to vote on a $52.4 billion offer from Disney in July, a meeting which will now likely be cancelled.

In a letter to “Dear Rupert, Lachlan and James [Murdoch]” Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said he had “long admired what the Murdoch family has built at Twenty-First Century Fox”. Lachlan and James are Rupert's sons, and are executive chairman and chief executive respectively.

“After our meetings last year, we came away convinced that the 21CF businesses to be sold are highly complementary to ours, and that our company would be the right strategic home for them,” Roberts wrote.

21CF’s revenue was $28.5 billion last year, while Comcast turned over $84.5 billion.

Mars on a pet care spend up

Mars is executing one of the largest pet care transactions on record, its second such deal in the space of a week.

It purchased veterinary hospital company AniCura from private equity group Nordic Capital, for a rumoured €2 billion ($2.4 billion), though the terms of the deal were not officially disclosed.

The AniCura deal came just days after Mars bought veterinary group Linnaeus from another PE firm for an undisclosed sum.

Owned by the eponymous family and best known for its confectionery, Mars is a $35-billion-a-year global empire with other interests in drinks, flavour science, and health food.

AniCura chief executive Peter Dahlberg said he was looking forward to joining a “family-owned business” with deep industrial knowledge.

Poul Weihrauch, the president of Mars Petcare said “as a family-owned business we have the privilege of being able to think in terms of decades” and that pet care was a rapidly-growing industry.

IKEA takes India

IKEA is opening its first store in India, using a 1000-seat restaurant to lure potential customers.

The 37,000 square metre Hyderabad store will open in July. The flat pack furniture giant will be contending with a culture where people are more inclined to do their shopping at small, local stores rather than big box complexes.

The Financial Times reported that IKEA teams had visited 1,000 homes to better understand Indian ways of life, resulting in many products to be sold for $3 equivalent, and more staff on hand to help people assemble their furniture.

IKEA had been eyeing the Indian market for many years, but had been held back by the country’s complex foreign investment laws and building regulations.

IKEA is controlled, though not owned, by the three sons of recently-deceased founder Ingvar Kamprad, via a famously complex series of foundations. Its revenue was more than $32 billion in 2016.


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