21st Century Fox Given Clearance To Buy Sky By British Government

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

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.

The £14 per share offer is 12pc higher than the £12.50 offered by Comcast in April and 82pc higher than the stock's value before Fox made its first offer in November 2016.

Disney recently increased their Fox Studios offer from $52.4 billion to $71.3 billion following Comcast offering a $65 billion all-cash deal for Fox. Comcast has also offered guaranteed funding for Sky News and other commitments, including maintaining Sky's West London base. At present, Disney appears to have the upper hand in the contest for Fox, stirring speculation that Comcast will redirect its firepower into snatching away Sky as a standalone acquisition. And should Comcast be successful in its bid to overtake Disney and buy Fox, Disney could in turn buy those RSN's and fold them into the ESPN brand.

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Now it's up to Comcast (cmcsa) to decide how much Sky is worth. He left the completion of the deal in the hands of Sky's shareholders. Rupert Murdoch's company is willing to pay £14 (Rs 1,254) per share - or £32.5 billion (Rs 2.96 lakh crore) - instead of £10.75 (Rs 978) per share for Sky. According to some shareholders, that has set an implied higher floor for Sky's shares.

The end of the week is also be the deadline for Comcast to post an offer to Sky shareholders, who then have 60 days to consider that offer under United Kingdom takeover rules. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer.

Murdoch's company still faces significant regulatory battles in Britain, including the culture secretary's statement that Fox would have to divest itself of Sky News to win government approval because of concerns about media plurality.

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

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.

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