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Fox raises bid for Sky to £14 a share

Fox’s new offer for the 61% of Sky it does not already own values the company at £24.5 billion.

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has hiked its bid to take full control of Sky to £14 a share as it looks to beat rival suitor Comcast in the battle for the pay TV giant.

Fox’s new offer for the 61% of Sky it does not already own values the company at £24.5 billion.

It said the offer was around 12% higher than the £12.50-a-share bid submitted by US cable group Comcast.

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Rupert Murdoch, pictured with wife Jerry Hall, has already agreed to sell Fox assets including its Sky stake to Walt Disney (PA)

Fox’s sweetened bid is also around 30.2% higher than its original £10.75-a-share bid made in December 2016, which valued the 61% stake at £11.7 billion.

Its move signals that Fox hopes to see off competition from Comcast after a long battle to buy out Sky, which has come under heavy scrutiny from the UK Government and competition watchdogs.

Earlier this month, then UK culture secretary Matt Hancock said Fox would have to sell off Sky News in order to address media plurality concerns and secure Government approval for the deal.

Fox has already agreed to sell most of its assets – including its current 39% stake in Sky – to Walt Disney.

If Fox buys the remaining stake in Sky before completing the Disney deal, Disney would take full ownership of Sky when it closes its own takeover of the Fox assets.

But in a further complication to the takeover saga, Comcast has also made an all-cash offer for the Fox assets separate from its offer for Sky.

Comcast is preparing to post details of its £12.50-a-share Sky offer documents before a Friday deadline under UK takeover rules.

We strongly believe that a combined 21st Century Fox and Sky will be a powerful driver for the continued growth and vibrancy of the UK and broader global creative industries 21st Century Fox

On its higher bid, Fox said: “As the founding shareholder of Sky, we have remained deeply committed to bringing these two organisations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future.

“We strongly believe that a combined 21st Century Fox and Sky will be a powerful driver for the continued growth and vibrancy of the UK and broader global creative industries.”

Sky shares fell nearly 2% following details of Fox’s raised bid.

Fox is waiting for a final decision from the UK Government on whether to accept its proposals over the sale of Sky News to address concerns over media plurality, given that the Murdoch family also owns News Corp – the publisher of a raft of UK newspapers.

Under its plans to offload Sky News to Disney, Fox has pledged to provide a Disney-owned Sky News channel with funding of at least £100 million a year for 15 years.

But if terms of a sale of Sky News cannot be agreed, Mr Hancock has already told Parliament the “only effective remedy now would be to block the merger altogether”.

A decision is expected by July 12.

The Government has separately cleared Comcast’s bid for Sky.

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