Comcast offers $31 billion for Sky, setting up showdown with Fox

"The independent committee of Sky welcomes today's announcement by Comcast of its firm intention to make a £12.50-per-share pre-conditional cash offer for Sky", it said in a statement.

21st Century Fox, meanwhile, said Wednesday it remained committed to buying all of Sky.

Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, originally proposed buying the 61% of the British pay-TV company it doesn't already own in December 2016, but British regulators have held up the takeover bid as it examines whether it would give Mr. Murdoch and his family too much influence in United Kingdom media.

Comcast's offer includes commitments to retaining the independence of Sky News and a pledge not to acquire any major interest in a United Kingdom newspaper for the next five years.

Comcast made a formal $31 billion offer for United Kingdom -based satellite TV broadcaster Sky, challenging Walt Disney (DIS).

The owner of Universal Pictures shows its hand, prompting Sky to withdraw its recommendation of a deal with 21st Century Fox.

Roberts said the Sky board's withdrawal of its support for Fox's offer was "the ideal step as far as we are concerned today".

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger, who called Sky a "crown jewel" when Disney announced its offer for Fox in December, now needs to decide how badly he wants to outdo Comcast for Sky and back a higher bid from Fox.

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Comcast's offer price is the same as its proposal first put forward in February.

News of the increased offer sent shares of Sky as high as 1402p at one point - suggesting investors expect a full-blown bidding war to break out.

Comcast said it was in talks with Sky's Independent Committee "with a view to obtaining a future recommendation of the acquisition".

There was also a commitment not to secure any United Kingdom newspaper ownership for at least five years.

Comcast announced that they have put in a superior cash offer of approximately £12.50 per share for a total of £22.0 billion, or almost United States $30.6 million.

"Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's CEO and Chairman, has said that the company "[believes] Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast". Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand.

Both offers are subject to regulatory approval. Fox has made multiple attempts to satisfy regulators, including by proposing to sell Sky News directly to Disney upon buying Sky.

Comcast sees Sky's 23M customers in the UK, Italy and Germany as a platform for further growth on the Continent.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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