Murdoch's Fox ups Sky bid to $32.5 billion, all eyes on Comcast

Daniel Fowler
July 12, 2018

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox on Wednesday revealed it had increased a takeover offer for pan-European TV group Sky, valuing the group at £24.5 billion and trumping Comcast's rival offer.

Comcast's £14.75p a share offer comes within hours of Murdoch making a new £14 a share offer valuing Sky at £24.5bn.

"We remain committed to the United Kingdom and believe that our offer for Sky will bring the best value for all the company's stakeholders and are delighted that the Independent Board of Sky has recommended our offer to its shareholders".

Comcast said its cash offer has been recommended by Sky's independent committee of directors.

Sky, based in the United Kingdom, has more than 20 million subscribers in several European countries, in addition to a content arm that includes Sky News.

Fox has been attempting to purchase Sky since December 2016, and has increased its offer by more than 30 percent since then, according to the AP.

Should Disney succeed, it will obtain Fox's 39 per cent stake in Sky as part of the package.

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Comcast tabled a proposal of £12.50 per share for Sky in February, and Sky's stock has traded consistently above the Comcast offer as investors anticipated Fox or Disney would come back with more.

The pursuit for Sky is meanwhile further complicated by a battle between Walt Disney and Comcast for key assets of 21st Century Fox.

"American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher", said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. Comcast faces a deadline of Friday to put its offer to Sky shareholders.

One hedge fund manager with a stake in Sky welcomed that pledge as a sign that Disney backed Fox in the battle. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer.

Fox's long-coveted acquisition of Sky remains subject to the approval of the newly-installed UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright.

"There are enough sub-plots in the race to acquire Sky to commission a primetime drama", Salmon said.

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