Sky battle escalates as Comcast raises offer to £26bn

Mai Fyfield is viewed as one of the main architects of Sky's success

Mai Fyfield is viewed as one of the main architects of Sky's success

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox increased Wednesday its bid to take full control of lucrative European pay TV service Sky in a prolonged battle with US rival Comcast.

Fox's latest offer of 14 pounds per share values Sky at 24.5 billion pounds ($32 billion), a 12% premium to Comcast's rival 22 billion pound offer, the New York-based media company said in a statement Wednesday.

Disney's bid to buy out the majority of Fox's entertainment assets was the talk of the town past year, until the two companies hit a roadblock - an anti-competitive complaint by the Department of Justice. Sky's shares closed at £15.01 on Tuesday, suggesting shareholders think the battle is not over.

Sky's independent directors accepted the latest Fox offer. 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, but none of whom have demonstrated the same local depth of investment and commitment to the United Kingdom and to Europe. Fox already owns about 39% of Sky.

Fox's biggest shareholder is the Murdoch Family Trust, which is also the biggest shareholder in News Corporation, owner of The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, some of Britain's bestselling and most influential newspapers.

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"Disney's internal forecasts now, on the basis of the cash flows they've published for Sky, would value it at 16 pounds", he said.

Comcast Corp. boosted its bid for Europe's Sky TV to $34 billion on Wednesday evening, in a global I-can-do-you-one-better takeover battle with Rupert Murdoch.

Reuters is reporting that Comcast is doing it now so that Fox shareholders won't have antitrust concerns, plus increase their chances for uprooting Disney's bid. Wright's predecessor had previously indicated the deal could go through if Sky was ultimately sold to a third party, like Disney.

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

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