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Volume 7 No. 109
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Comcast Ups Ante On 21st Century Fox With £25.9B Offer For Sky

An offer of £24.5B ($32.4B) tabled by 21st Century Fox on Wednesday to take control of Sky was "trumped" later in the day by a counterbid from Comcast in a "further escalation of the takeover battle for the European pay-TV group," according to Simon Duke of the LONDON TIMES. In "a day of bid and counterbid," the £14 ($18.50)-a-share offer for the 61% of Sky that Fox does not already own, which has been approved by Sky’s independent directors, "was capped in the evening," after Wall Street had closed, by a £14.75 ($19.49)-a-share cash bid from Comcast. Comcast said in a statement that its latest offer "represented a premium" of approximately 5.4% to the 21st Century Fox offer, “implying a value of approximately £25.9 billion ($34.2B) for the fully diluted share capital of Sky" (LONDON TIMES, 7/12). REUTERS' Holton & Keidan reported Sky shares "leapt to an 18-year high" on Thursday as investors "bet a transatlantic battle for the European pay-TV group had further to run," after Comcast’s $34B bid trumped an offer from Rupert Murdoch. The speed with which Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts made a counterbid "shows how determined he is to buy" Sky. The broadcaster's shares rose to as high as £15.41 ($20.37) on Thursday and were trading at £15.37 ($20.31) late Thursday afternoon, valuing it at £26.4B ($35B) as investors "bet the bidders would have to pay more to secure victory." Top-20 Sky shareholder Crispin Odey said, "You need a finale at the end of a great bull market and I think Sky is going to be that finale" (REUTERS, 7/12).

ALL CLEAR: In London, Mark Sweney reported the U.K. government "finally" gave Murdoch clearance to take over Sky as the media mogul mulls a £26B-plus bid to "try to see off" Comcast. U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright gave Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox "the green light to buy the 61% of Sky he does not already own" after a "final consultation" on plans to make him sell Sky News to reduce his control of U.K. news media. Murdoch "must also top up any potential shortfall" in funding by Sky News’ new owner, which will be Disney if he can "successfully take control of Sky," to keep its budget at £100M ($132M) for the next 15 years (GUARDIAN, 7/12).