Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Business | By Pearl Harrison

Fox raises Sky offer to $32 billion in battle with Comcast

Fox raises Sky offer to $32 billion in battle with Comcast

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has bid £14 a share for the British pay-TV broadcaster Sky.

But it comes after the takeover saga stepped up a gear as Comcast increased its offer for Sky to £26 billion, just hours after Fox hiked its bid to £24.5 billion.

U.S. media giant Comcast threw its hat into the ring in February with a £22bn offer for Sky, trumping an offer from Fox, and starting a bidding war. The move launched a bidding war between Disney and Comcast, with the former company updating their initial offer to $71.3 billion split evenly between cash and stock. Comcast said on Wednesday that Sky's independent board committee supports its offer that it plans to mail to Sky shareholders within days.

The battle between Fox and Comcast to acquire Sky has been going on for the last 18 months.

New York-listed 21CF raised its offer to 14 for each outstanding share, up substantially on a previous bid of 10.75.

A successful acquisition of Sky would extend Comcast's reach Europe.

Should Disney succeed, it will obtain Fox's 39 per cent stake in Sky as part of the package. Sky shares fell as much as 2% as some investors had expected a higher counter fromFox, but are still trading above the latest Fox bid.

"This transformative transaction will position Sky so that it can continue to compete within an environment that now includes some of the largest companies in the world", Fox said. According to some shareholders, that has set an implied higher floor for Sky's shares.

At the same time, U.K. Secretary of State Jeremy Wright gave Fox the OK on its Sky deal, provided the company divests Sky News to either Disney or another company.

He said amended guarantees had been made over Sky News to address concerns over media plurality, as well as changes to the associated brand licensing agreement following responses to the Government's consultation.

The end of the week is also be the deadline for Comcast to post an offer to Sky shareholders, who then have 60 days to consider that offer under United Kingdom takeover rules. News Corp., which is controlled by the Murdochs, withdrew its bid for Sky soon after.

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