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

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

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid £10.75 per share for Sky back in 2016 but the process has been bogged down by United Kingdom regulatory concerns that have called into question the prospect of it ever succeeding.

Giant US telco Comcast has upstaged Rupert Murdoch by offering £12.50 per share - around £22 billion - for Sky.

Fox's 10.75 pounds-a-share deal has been held up to scrutiny by regulators, who have concerns about the influence Murdcoh could wield through owning all of the broadcaster as well as his British newspapers. Comcast will also need to get regulatory green lights, but will not face some of the issues that have beset the Fox bid, such as control of news outlets in the United Kingdom.

Just before Disney unveiled its $52.4 billion takeover deal for various entertainment businesses of Fox in December, Comcast had also been looking to make an offer, but bowed out, saying it never got a full chance in the process. Fox has also suggested making Sky News its own entity with its own board of directors, a move that would theoretically bolster the outlet's independence.

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

Sky shares rose 3.9 percent to 13.59 pounds as investors bet Fox would sweeten its bid, and Sky withdrew its recommendation that shareholders accept the Fox offer.

Hedge fund Elliott has taken a stake of nearly 3 percent in Sky, according to its latest filing, and other shareholders have argued that Disney's $52 billion agreement to buy Fox implies a higher value for Sky.

"We are delighted to be formalizing our offer for Sky today", said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts (pictured) in a statement.

There was also a commitment not to secure any United Kingdom newspaper ownership for at least five years. Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand. United Kingdom regulators have balked at allowing Fox to gain total control of Sky so that's where we are at this point.

To address media plurality concerns, Fox had recently announced Disney would consider buying Sky News, even if its takeover of Fox's other assets didn't go through.

"We think (Comcast) could reasonably take the offer up to 1300p, but they would be giving away value at anything above that", New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said.

  • Anthony Vega