Comcast ups Sky bid to $34 billion, escalating battle with Rupert Murdoch

Mai Fyfield is viewed as one of the main architects of Sky's success

Mai Fyfield is viewed as one of the main architects of Sky's success

Britain finally cleared Rupert Murdoch to buy Sky on Thursday, removing the final obstacle to a head-to-head battle between Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox and US rival Comcast for the European pay-TV prize.

Fox raised its bid to 14 pounds ($18.58) a share as it seeks the 61 percent of Sky not already under its control. Although the figure now looks to be untouchable, Comcast is expected to reply with its final offer that could climb as high as $90bn.

The fight for ownership of Sky is playing out against the backdrop of Disney and Comcast's battle for a raft of Fox assets, including Fox's current 39% stake in Sky.

Fox's takeover plan is expected to receive formal approval from the United Kingdom authorities this week after more than 18 months of investigations. "It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21CF's bid", Wright said. Rupert Murdoch's company is willing to pay £14 (Rs 1,254) per share - or £32.5 billion (Rs 2.96 lakh crore) - instead of £10.75 (Rs 978) per share for Sky.

Neither Comcast nor Sky immediately responded to requests for comment. 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.

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Fox said Disney had given its consent to the additional debt Fox would take on and said that it would reimburse Fox by around 1 billion pounds if Fox succeeds in buying Sky at that price, but the Disney-Fox transaction falls through.

Fox will be hoping to see off competition from Comcast after a long battle to buy the remaining stake in Sky, having faced heavy scrutiny from the Government and the competition watchdog. Sky's shares closed at £15.01 on Tuesday, suggesting shareholders think the battle is not over. "We will be posting our offer document to Sky shareholders shortly".

Sky's independent directors accepted the latest Fox offer.

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 U.S. citizen Murdoch.

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

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