Comcast has increased its cash-offer for the UK-based pay TV group Sky to $34 billion, mounting pressure on Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox that intends to spend $32.5 billion.
Fox, which has been trying to buy the pan-European group since December 2016, offered to pay 14 pounds per share, a 12 percent premium to Comcast’s earlier offer.
Comcast, which increased its cash offer to 14.75 pounds per share on Wednesday, said Sky’s independent committee of directors have recommended its cash offer. Some shareholders are looking for 16 pounds per share for Sky.
Comcast, the US-based cable group and Twenty-First Century Fox are ready to buy Sky in order to compete with new generation media companies such as Netflix and Amazon.com to spruce up their ARPU.
Comcast and Walt Disney are already locked in a separate $70 billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox’s assets, which would include Sky, Reuters reported.
Disney secured conditional U.S. approval to buy the assets last month, giving it an edge over Comcast’s bid.
Hong Kong-based hedge fund Case Equity Partners, a Sky investor, said the fact Disney was in a slightly more favourable position for Fox’s U.S. media assets meant Comcast would fight even harder to get Sky.
British regulators have indicated that if Disney succeeds in buying Fox, including the 39 percent stake in Sky, it would be required to offer the same price for the remainder of Sky.
Hedge funds including Elliott have bought into Sky in recent months and other vocal shareholders such as Crispin Odey have demanded that the independent directors secure a better deal.
Fox said Disney had given its consent to the additional debt Fox would take on and said that it would reimburse Fox by around 1 billion pounds if Fox succeeds in buying Sky at that price, but the Disney-Fox transaction falls through.
The British government is expected to finally allow Fox, which is run by Rupert’s son James, to buy Sky this week, after the U.S. group agreed to sell Sky’s news channel to Disney to prevent Murdoch from owning too much of the British media.