Comcast reportedly lining up bidders for Fox Sports Net channels

Comcast reportedly lining up bidders for Fox Sports Net channels

21st Century Fox has increased its bid to buy the rest of Sky in a deal that values Europe's biggest satcaster at $32.5 billion, pushing past a rival offer from Comcast and heating up the race for ownership of the pay-TV giant.

Fox could face further competition from the U.S. cable giant Comcast, however, after it forced Sky's independent directors to drop their previous backing for Fox with an unexpected £12.50-a-share bid for the group in February.

Fox unveiled its new bid Wednesday morning London time just as Comcast is preparing to formalize its own $31 billion offer for Sky, probably to be sent to Sky shareholders later this week.

Sky, based in the United Kingdom, has more than 20 million subscribers in several European countries, in addition to a content arm that includes Sky News.

Its offer represents an 82 percent premium to Sky's shares in 2016 before the takeover drama started, and a multiple of 21 times 2017 earnings per share.

Murdoch helped to launch Sky in 1989 in Britain, building it up to be Britain's dominant pay-TV provider through its ownership of Premier League soccer, USA drama and films.

Sky's shares were up 3 percent at 15.38 pounds on Thursday, valuing it at 26.6 billion pounds, or $35 billion, as investors bet the battle has further to run for a group which owns a slate of top sport and original drama content.

The battle for Sky between Fox and Comcast is playing out against a larger bidding war between Comcast and Disney for a chunk of Fox's entertainment assets.

Disney recently increased their Fox Studios offer from $52.4 billion to $71.3 billion following Comcast offering a $65 billion all-cash deal for Fox.

Comcast has said that Sky is very important because it could take the US -bound cable and internet giant into global markets. Comcast faces a deadline of Friday to put its offer to Sky shareholders.

20th Century Fox recently set July 27 as the new date for stockholders to vote on the sale of their many film and television assets to The Walt Disney Co., which has also recently received USA anti-trust approval.

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.

But Fox must promise to divest Sky News to assuage concerns over Fox controlling too much of the country's news media. The opposition has not completely subsided despite the plan to spin off Sky News.