Comcast tops 21st Century Fox's Sky bid

Rupert Murdoch faces competition for Sky from Comcast. Jewel Samad  AFP

In response to Comcast's new offer, Sky released a statement saying that the Independent Committee has withdrawn its recommendation of Fox's offer and will be terminating the Cooperation Agreement that they had with the American media company, due to the "announcement of [Comast's] higher cash offer".

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid £10.75 per share for Sky back in 2016 but the process has been bogged down by United Kingdom regulatory concerns that have called into question the prospect of it ever succeeding.

Comcast, the owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was delighted to be formalising its offer.

The Comcast bid also comes without the difficulties surrounding the 21 Century Fox bid and Rupert Murdoch's existing ties to the United Kingdom news industry. Mr. Murdoch will be reluctant to part with the company he spent decades building and might want to hang on to Fox's 39 percent stake in case the wider Disney tie-up collapses.

Roberts said the Sky board's withdrawal of its support for Fox's offer was "the flawless step as far as we are concerned today". Comcast said it was considering such an offer in February. Disney had agreed in November to buy 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and its stake in Sky.

"The most likely scenario, according to many analysts, is that Fox, with Disney's blessing, raises its bid", Reuters said. Sky PLC shares were 3.63% higher at £1.355.50.

And in a bid to head off any competition concerns, the group said it would vow not to acquire any majority stake in any United Kingdom newspapers for five years.

Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said Sky withdrawing its recommendation was what it wanted to achieve by formalizing its offer on Wednesday.

Acquiring Sky would boost Comcast's ability to invest in programming, innovation and would significantly expand its worldwide footprint, the company said. "It is led by a terrific management team who we look forward to working with to build and grow this business".

Sky's independent directors said they welcomed Comcast's $17.4 (12.50 pound) per share bid and would now engage with both Comcast and Fox. United Kingdom regulators have balked at allowing Fox to gain total control of Sky so that's where we are at this point.

Rupert Murdoch and one of his sons, Lachlan Murdoch, are Fox's two co-chairmen.

The Sky committee noted its duty is to maximize value for shareholders.

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