Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Entertaiment | By Mabel Barber

Comcast boosts Sky bid to $34M, topping Fox offer in global standoff

Comcast boosts Sky bid to $34M, topping Fox offer in global standoff

An offer of £24.5 billion tabled by 21st Century Fox yesterday to take control of Sky was trumped late last night by a counterbid from the rival Comcast in a further escalation of the takeover battle for the European pay-TV group.

Fox has faced several months of regulatory scrutiny to obtain approval for its $24.7 billion bid for the 61% of Sky it doesn't already own.

Comcast hopes that preparing now for such divestitures will ease Fox's concerns over potential antitrust risks and boost the chances of its bid disrupting Fox's agreed $71 billion cash-and-stock deal to sell the assets to Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), the sources said on Monday.

Hong Kong-based hedge fund Case Equity Partners, a Sky investor, said the fact Disney was in a slightly more favourable position for Fox's US media assets meant Comcast would fight even harder to get Sky.

The world's biggest entertainment company and owner of NBC and Universal Pictures gate-crashed Murdoch's bid for Sky in February. Sky shares closed at 15.15 pounds.

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The battle for Sky between Fox and Comcast is playing out against a larger bidding war between Comcast and Disney for a chunk of Fox's entertainment assets.

Fox said it had secured the agreement of the independent committee of Sky for the deal. 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.

Following the announcement, Sky's share price was down 1.3 per cent at 14.81, though above the improved offer. Of the assets he's seeking to acquire from Fox, Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger called Sky "a real crown jewel".

But Disney and Fox are determined to keep their deal together - Murdoch has favored Disney in negotiations over the sale of 21st Century Fox assets, including Fox's stake in Sky, to Disney. On Tuesday, he said he intends to announce his final decisions by tomorrow July 12.

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