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

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox says it has agreed to buy Britain's Sky in a deal valuing the pay-TV group at $32.5 billion, trumping a rival offer from the U.S. group Comcast.

The Associated Press reported that Fox, which already has a 39 percent stake in Sky, raised its offer to 14 pounds per share ($18.58), more than Comcast's latest offer but not equivalent to the value Sky was trading at on Wednesday.

Fox made the new offer in an attempt to outbid its rival Comcast, which has offered Sky £12.5 (Rs. 1,139) per share, CNBC reported.

Sky's independent committee said Wednesday Fox's new bid "represents a substantial increase in value relative to the Comcast offer", and it will "unanimously recommend" the offer to Sky shareholders, according to the Financial Times. A Sky-Fox deal still has to be approved by the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

Fox first bid for the 61 per cent of Sky it doesn't already own in December 2016, offering 10.75 pounds per share, but was held up over concerns that the tie-up would give Murdoch too much influence over Britain's media.

Murdoch helped to launch Sky in 1989 in Britain, building it up to be Britain's dominant pay-TV provider through its ownership of Premier League soccer, US drama and films.

Shares in Sky Plc were down 0.8 percent at 14.90 pounds, suggesting investors believe Comcast could come back with another improved offer.

"Today's Fox bid is unlikely to be the end game as we see a final Sky deal outcome at well over 15 pounds per share", said managing partner Michael Wegener.

Fox's long-running pursuit for all of Sky has been plagued by United Kingdom government fears over media plurality and broadcasting standards and the influence of Australian-born USA citizen Murdoch.

Hong Kong-based hedge fund Case Equity Partners, a Sky investor, said the fact Disney was in a slightly more favourable position for Fox's US media assets meant Comcast would fight even harder to get Sky.

CNBC reports that Comcast is now focusing on buying the UK-pay TV provider Sky before it makes a decision on the remainder of the Fox for-sale assets, which includes the Marvel properties, Avatar, the FOX TV stations and more. "This offer reflects the strong position the business is in and is an attractive premium for shareholders".

Sky now operates in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.

Disney is reportedly thinking of selling off Fox's RSN's to various companies like AT&T, Charter and other companies.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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