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Sky TV reports ‘unsolicited approaches’, appoints Jarden as adviser

Sky TV has appointed investment bank Jarden to advise it on a range of “unsolicited approaches”, shareholders were told today at an Investor Day presentation.

The pay-TV provider declined to provide any detail about who made the approaches, however, or if any of them involved a takeover offer.

ChairmanPhilip Bowman told the virtual audience that, “Over the last 12 months Sky has received a number of unsolicited approaches around potential transactions, all of which have been highly conditional and incomplete.”

Bowman added, “With the capital structure now stabilised, a strong position in the NZ market, and a revitalised strategy, the board does not believe the current share price reflects the underlying value of the company.”

Sky, with help from Jarden, will evaluate “strategic investment partnerships that deliver sustained ongoing growth to the rights content and distribution reach of the company, which in turn will accelerate the creation of shareholder value,” the chairman said.

Sky chief executive Sophie Moloney said, “Sky’s leadership team and staff maintain our absolute focus on delivering the strategy outlined today, whilst being open to exploring opportunities to accelerate further sustainable value creation for shareholders.”

Moloney could not comment further.

Some pundits interpreted Sky’s statements as implying a possible takeover was in the offing.

Investors appeared to not immediately embrace the theory, however, with Sky shares trading down 1.18 per cent to 16.8c (for a market cap of $293m) in mid-afternoon trading following this morning’s update.

In 2017, a proposed merger of Sky with Vodafone’s NZ business was blocked by the Commerce Commission, with courts backing the regulator during appeals.

Sky said it could not comment in any more detail. Asked if Sky could say point-blank if a takeover was among the approaches, Sky external relations director Chris Major said “I can’t comment specifically. A range of options and approaches are on the table – [all] incomplete and highly conditional.”

Although Sky shares have gained 13.5 per cent this year, the company’s $293m, they are still well off the $2.35 at the time of the 2017 Vodafone offer, which in turn was only a third of pay-TV broadcaster’s high water mark.

Sky also said today that its new, Android-powered set-top box, which will support 4K ultra high definition video and third-party apps such as Netflix, will not appear until mid-2022. In an early briefing the company had said it could be ready as soon as June this year.

The company has set a customer target of 150,000 to 200,000 by the end of 2024 for deploying the new Android boxes.

The company also forecast that it would be growing revenue by $75m to $100m per year by 2024 as streaming services Neon and Sky Sport adding customers at a compound annual growth rate of 10 to 15 per cent over the next three years.

Sky also provided the first targets for its new Sky Broadband service, provided in partnership with Chorus and Vocus (owner of Orcon and Slingshot). Its three-year target is for 8 to 13 per cent of Sky customers to be using the service (which is steeply discounted if you also have a Sky decoder contract), and 3 to 5 per cent of the broadband market overall.

Earlier in the day, Spark announced it had expanded its sports rights by winning Champions League football from Sky.

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