Comcast formally takes on Murdoch with pound sterling22bn Sky bid

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Fox, which already owns 39 percent of Sky, offered to buy the rest of the shares in June, triggering concerns the deal would give Murdoch too much control over British media.

LONDON — U.S. media giant Comcast on Wednesday offered $30.7 billion for Sky PLC, topping a bid from Rupert Murdochs 21st Century Fox and setting up a bidding war for Britains biggest satellite TV company.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says his company's cash offer values each Sky share at 12.50 pounds, 16 per cent higher than the 21st Century Fox offer of 10.75 pounds.

The bid, announced earlier Wednesday saw the withdrawal of support for the 21 Century Fox offer, as Sky seeks to engage with Comcast.

Comcast - the biggest U.S. cable TV firm that also owns the NBC network and Universal Pictures - said its bid offered a premium of about 16% to the Fox's £10.75 a share offer. Now, Fox and Disney will likely revisit their bid amount to compete with Comcast as Fox said it remains committed to the takeover and is considering its options.

21st Century Fox has been attempting to take full control of Sky but United Kingdom regulators have expressed concerns about Fox exerting too much power over the British media sector.

Sky has broken ranks with Fox for the first time
Sky has broken ranks with Fox for the first time

It will also establish a Sky News editorial board to ensure the channel's independence, keep the United Kingdom headquarters in Osterley for five years and not acquire any majority interest in British newspapers for five years. "Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand". Sky is a highly complementary business and will expand Comcast's global footprint in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. But Comcast isnt wooing just Sky shareholders. In February it said it meant to make an offer at the same level of £12.50 a share.

He added: "We also understand the role that Sky plays in United Kingdom society and in its customers' lives and we are determined to be responsible and trusted owners of Sky".

Analyst George Salmon of Hargreaves Lansdown said that the Comcast bid raised the possibility of a bidding war.

"As far as the value of Sky goes, that's a game-changer".

It said Sky would "co-operate fully" with both parties but also welcomed Comcast's bid, saying it believed its voluntary commitments to the company under the offer "should comprehensively address any potential public interest concerns".

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