Murdoch's 21st Century Fox ups Sky bid to beat rival Comcast

Comcast

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has kicked off a potential bidding war with United States entertainment giant Comcast after making a new offer for the 59pc of Sky it does not already own that values the UK-based broadcaster at £24.5bn.

But Fox may still face further competition from USA cable giant Comcast which submitted its own bid for Sky in February, valuing the pan European group at 12.50 pounds per share.

A top Sky shareholder told Reuters that Comcast is expected to respond with a higher offer for the company.

The move by the NBC owner came less than 24 hours after 21st Century Fox increased its offer to £24.5bn.

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.

Comcast on Wednesday increased its cash offer to 14.75 pounds per share.

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The effort to buy Sky comes as Fox itself is the object of a takeover battle by Comcast and Disney.

Sky's independent directors accepted the latest Fox offer.

"We have long recognised the unique position that Sky occupies", said Gilbert. If true, this would be in violation of security rules and may well block - or at the very least stall - Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox and its precious entertainment assets.

"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.

Fox shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Disney deal on July 27.

Murdoch had previously tried to buy Sky in 2011 when a phone hacking scandal at his News of the World tabloid sparked a political backlash over his role in Britain. The opposition has not completely subsided despite the plan to spin off Sky News.

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