United Kingdom clears 21st Century Fox to buy satellite pay-TV giant Sky


In an extraordinary day of bid and counterbid, the £14-a-share offer for the 61 per cent of Sky that Fox does not already own, which has been approved by Sky's independent directors, was capped in the evening, after Wall Street had closed, by a £14.75-a-share cash bid from Comcast.

Shares in Sky rose on Thursday morning after U.S. media giant Comcast submitted a new and improved £26bn offer to acquire the British broadcaster. Comcast has also offered guaranteed funding for Sky News and other commitments, including maintaining Sky's West London base. Topping Comcast's 12.50 pounds a share. "We have long admired Sky, which we believe is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast".

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

The fight for Britain's leading pay-TV group is part of a bigger battle being waged in the entertainment industry as the world's media giants splash out tens of billions of dollars on deals to be able to compete with Netflix (NFLX.O) and Amazon.com (AMZN.O).

To address those concerns, Fox has agreed to sell Sky News to Disney, with a commitment that the channel would be funded to the tune of £100m a year for the next 15 years.

Wright said Thursday that it's "now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21st Century Fox's bid".

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Sky gives Fox and Comcast a rare opportunity to diversify out of the USA and reach more consumers directly.

Murdoch's Fox said the performance of Sky since December 2016, including its renewal of the right to show English Premier League matches at a lower price than expected, justified its higher offer.

One hedge fund manager with a stake in Sky welcomed that pledge as a sign that Disney backed Fox in the battle.

Brian Roberts, chief executive of Comcast said: 'We are please to be announcing a recommended increased offer for Sky today.

The Government had been concerned over the impact that Fox's takeover of Sky could have on United Kingdom media, given that the Murdoch family also owns News Corp - the publisher of a raft of newspapers including The Sun and The Times. News Corp., which is controlled by the Murdochs, withdrew its bid for Sky soon after.

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