Sky battle escalates as Comcast raises offer to £26bn

The offer is likely to be followed up by another from Comcast a rival bidder for Sky which screens hit shows such as Westworld

The offer is likely to be followed up by another from Comcast a rival bidder for Sky which screens hit shows such as Westworld

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox increased Wednesday its bid to take full control of lucrative European pay TV service Sky in a prolonged battle with USA rival Comcast.

The clock was ticking on Fox to make a higher bid for Sky, because Comcast faces a deadline of Friday to formally deliver its offer to shareholders of the London-based company, under United Kingdom takeover rules.

The agreed price represents an 82 percent premium to Sky's shares in December 2016, before it struck its original deal to buy Sky, and a multiple of 21 times 2017 earnings per share.

The fight for Britain's leading pay-TV group is part of a bigger battle being waged in the entertainment industry as the world's media giants splash out tens of billions of dollars on deals to be able to compete with Netflix (NFLX.O) and (AMZN.O). The complaint also points to the inadequate disclosure of Goldman's potential conflicts of interest and the financial projections for Fox's 30% stake in Hulu.

The UK government has already said it's likely to approve Fox's bid for Sky after Fox satisfied concerns over media plurality.

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"We are please to be announcing a recommended increased offer for Sky today", said Brian Roberts, chief executive of Comcast.

Under the deal, Fox would keep Fox Sports, Fox News and Fox Television Stations and make them into a new company called "New Fox".

It's not clear yet whether Comcast will also increase its bid for 21st Century Fox to counter Disney's latest $71 billion offer.

That is a whopping 80% more than the market thought Sky was worth before the bidding war started.

"It's too low", Odey, a former son-in-law of Murdoch whose eponymous hedge fund is a Sky shareholder, said of the sweetened Fox offer. News Corp., which is controlled by the Murdochs, withdrew its bid for Sky soon after. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer. 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.

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