News And Views


Comcast vs. Fox – How to negotiate in a blind auction


This weekend’s news that Comcast has outbid Fox in a rare blind auction process set by the UK’s takeover panel, is a powerful reminder of the challenges of negotiating in a one-off setting.

After three rounds of secret bidding, Comcast has come out the winner, ending a 21 month battle for control of SKY.   So what lessons can be learnt from Comcast’s victory to help you draw on your commercial EQ and negotiate in situations like this?


1. Don’t worry about the competition

This is easy to say but hard to do. You need to draw on your self-control – a key EQ skill- and put all thoughts of your competitor out of your mind so that you can focus on what the deal means to you instead. Don’t be tempted to second-guess what the other person will bid as this will only serve to divert your attention. Instead make sure you do your preparation so that you can hold your nerve and stay cool, calm and collected throughout the bidding process.


2. Learn how to price your offer

In a one-off bid, the only factor over which you have any control is the price. So it’s more important than ever to harness your ambition and give your most appropriate offer – after all there are no second chances. The secret to being appropriately ambitious is to get alignment internally and resist the temptation to negotiate with yourself. It’s come to light that Comcast’s bid was 10% higher than Fox’s – so only now can the true value of Sky be ascertained – after all, the only way to value something is find out what someone is willing to pay for it.


3. Be resilient and move on

Both Fox and Comcast need to draw on their resilience and look to the future. In the case of Fox, they need to accept that they gave their best offer and bounce back from the disappointment of losing. Comcast have to feel comfortable with the amount they have paid for SKY and recognise that negotiating is just the start of the beginning. Their focus and investment now needs to be on how the acquisition of SKY will help them increase their customer base and expand internationally.


I hope that by following these three steps to develop your commercial EQ, so that you have self-control, ambition and resilience – you will be well on your way to mastering the art of negotiating a one-off deal.