Comcast tops 21st Century Fox's Sky bid

John Phillips  Getty Images

John Phillips Getty Images

Following the Comcast bid, Sky said it is withdrawing its recommendation for the Fox bid.

In the continuing saga of USA media conglomerates battling over Sky of the United Kingdom, Comcast has fired the latest salvo in its hopes of gaining control of the company.

The picture is complicated by Disney's own bid for Fox's media assets, including Sky. Mr. Murdoch will be reluctant to part with the company he spent decades building and might want to hang on to Fox's 39 percent stake in case the wider Disney tie-up collapses. Now, Fox and Disney will likely revisit their bid amount to compete with Comcast as Fox said it remains committed to the takeover and is considering its options.

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After announcing its intention to make a £22 billion bid for Sky PLC past year, Comcast has now confirmed its interest in the United Kingdom media business. That is the price Comcast said it would offer when it announced its intention to bid for Sky in February.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says his company's cash offer values each Sky share at £12.50, above the 21st Century Fox offer of £10.75.

Roberts said the combination would "fuel our ability to invest even further in innovation and drive more compelling financial returns". Nevertheless, investors who pushed Sky shares up 4 percent to £13.57 on Wednesday are wagering that Disney and Fox will disregard financial sense.

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Comcast (CMCSA) said Wednesday that adjusted first-quarter earnings were 62 cents a share, up 17% from a year ago, with revenue rising 11% to $22.79 billion, topping consensus estimates. The acquisition of Sky, he said, would increase the proportion of Comcast's revenues from outside the USA from 9% to 25%.

But British regulators aren't so keen on allowing Murdoch to buy the company, which would give him too much control of the United Kingdom media and is therefore "not in the public interest", the Competition and Markets Authority said earlier this year.

"The independent committee also welcomes the post-offer undertakings and commitments Comcast intends to give in relation to Sky's existing business including Sky News, and believes that these voluntary commitments should comprehensively address any potential public interest concerns". Its bid has been dogged by a long-running regulatory review in Britain.

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