Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) on Wednesday raised its all-cash offer for Britain's Sky (SKYB.L) to $34 billion, topping a raised bid of $32.5 billion for the pay-TV group from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O).
Fox's bid to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own had been held up by regulators amid concerns the United States company would have too much influence over the United Kingdom media landscape.
Fox could face further competition from USA cable giant Comcast however, after it forced Sky's independent directors to drop their previous backing for Fox with an unexpected 12.50 pounds per share bid for the group in February. At present, Disney appears to have the upper hand in the contest for Fox, stirring speculation that Comcast will redirect its firepower into snatching away Sky as a standalone acquisition.
The U.K. government has already said it's likely to approve Fox's bid for Sky after Fox satisfied concerns over media plurality.
The battle for Sky is raging while a separate tussle for Fox's entertainment assets simmers on between Comcast and Disney. Comcast has also offered guaranteed funding for Sky News and other commitments, including maintaining Sky's West London base. And should Comcast be successful in its bid to overtake Disney and buy Fox, Disney could in turn buy those RSN's and fold them into the ESPN brand. Fox, which already owns 39% of Sky, on Wednesday said the independent committee the British company had formed for the sale has approved its offer. Weiss also wants more information about debut and wants to know how a Goldman affiliate could be the underwriter, placement agent and bookrunner "in connection with Fox's possible incurrence of permanent debt financing".
"We have long admired Sky, which we believe is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast". Of the assets he's seeking to acquire from Fox, Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger called Sky "a real crown jewel".
This all part of the ongoing battle for Fox's entertainment assets. gets more complicated as the days go on.