Comcast fires new salvo in £26bn battle for Sky

Currently Comcast’s $29 billion bid has been accepted by U.K. regulators without conditions

Currently Comcast’s $29 billion bid has been accepted by U.K. regulators without conditions

Comcast Corp has raised its offer for Britain's Sky in a deal valuing the pay-TV group at $US34 billion ($A46 billion), topping a raised bid of $US32.5 billion from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

Fox's new offer, which is an all-cash offer, for the 61% of Sky it doesn't already own is approximately $32.5 billion, a 30 percent increase over its previous offer, which was made in December 2016.

Comcast on Wednesday said its cash offer had been recommended by Sky's independent committee of directors and that it has committed financing required for the deal. And in the process, Comcast is already looking for potential bidders to buy Fox Sports Net's regional networks.

Sky's shares were up 3 percent at 15.38 pounds on Thursday, valuing it at 26.6 billion pounds, or $35 billion, as investors bet the battle has further to run for a group which owns a slate of top sport and original drama content.

Chaplin and other analysts on Wall Street are hoping that Fox, Comcast, and Disney can find a way to back off a full-out bidding war over all parts of Murdoch's entertainment empire, with Comcast taking the Sky business for the $34 billion and Disney taking the rest of the Fox entertainment assets for $71 billion.

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"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. "We will be posting our offer document to Sky shareholders shortly".

One hedge fund manager with a stake in Sky welcomed that pledge as a sign that Disney backed Fox in the battle.

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. The media mogul's previous effort to buy out the rest of Sky foundered amid Britain's 2011 phone-hacking scandal, which hardened opposition to Murdoch's influence over the United Kingdom media landscape.

"There are enough sub-plots in the race to acquire Sky to commission a primetime drama", Salmon said.

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