Murdoch's Fox ups Sky bid to $32.5 billion, all eyes on Comcast



Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox on Wednesday revealed it had increased a takeover offer for pan-European TV group Sky, valuing the group at £24.5 billion and trumping Comcast's rival offer.

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.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Comcast was exploring tie-ups with other companies or private equity investors for its bid for the Fox assets.

While 21st Century Fox shareholders are poised to meet on July 27 to discuss the Walt Disney Co.

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. Rupert Murdoch's Hollywood studio has reached an agreement with Sky's Independent Committee for the higher offer at a price of £14 for each Sky share. Topping Comcast's 12.50 pounds a share.

Fox said its ownership of Sky would position the satcaster "to compete within an environment that now includes some of the largest companies in the world, but none of [which] have demonstrated the same local depth of investment and commitment to the United Kingdom and to Europe".

Martin Gilbert, deputy chairman of Sky, said that Comcast's offer represent an "attractive premium to the current alternative offer".

"This transformative transaction will position Sky so that it can continue to compete within an environment that now includes some of the largest companies in the world", Fox said. 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. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer. The opposition has not completely subsided despite the plan to spin off Sky News.