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Rupert Murdoch's Fox makes new increased offer for Sky in bid to edge out Comcast

Caitlin Morrison
The broadcaster has been trying to buy the remainder of Sky since 2016: Reuters

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has increased its bid for Sky to £24.5bn, in an effort to edge out competitor Comcast from a takeover tug of war.

Fox agreed to buy the 61 per cent portion of Sky that it does not already own back in 2016, in a £10.75 per share deal valuing the UK broadcaster at more than £18bn.

However, Comcast waded in with a higher offer of £12.50 per share earlier this year, and Sky withdrew its support for the Fox bid.

On Wednesday, Fox and Sky announced that they had reached agreement on the terms of a new offer of £14 per share, a 12 per cent increase on Comcast’s bid, which values Sky at £24.5bn.

The companies said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange: “As the founding shareholder of Sky, 21st Century Fox has remained deeply committed to bringing these two organisations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future.

“21CF strongly believes that a combined 21CF and Sky will be a powerful driver for the continued growth and vibrancy of the UK and broader global creative industries.”

The groups said the enhanced scale and capabilities of the combined company will “enrich Sky’s ability to continue on its mission for years to come, especially at a time of dynamic change in our industry”.

“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, but none of whom have demonstrated the same local depth of investment and commitment to the UK and to Europe,” Sky and Fox said.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There’s enough sub-plots the race to acquire Sky to commission a primetime drama.”

Fox coming back in for Sky is “not a surprise in itself”, Mr Salmon added, but the new offer is slightly lower than some had expected, providing another twist to the tale.

“In fact, there’s every chance it might entice another counter from Comcast. That might explain why the shares still trade above the latest offer price,” he said.

“Whoever ends up in control will have acquired an attractive asset, but the price tag can’t be ignored. Before Fox’s original offer, Sky was trading at under £8 a share. Yes, securing another three years of Premier League football at a lower cost is a significant development, but if the bidding war rumbles on much longer, the risk of over-paying becomes all the more real.”