Fox raised its bid for the roughly 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own by more than 30%, to £14 a share, in a deal that values all of Sky at $32.5 billion. Fox said Sky’s independent directors have agreed to the new offer.
The bid tops a rival offer from Comcast, which is competing with Fox for Sky and could come back with a higher offer, still. Comcast is also competing with Walt Disney Co. in a bidding war for a big chunk of Fox assets, including Fox’s current 39% stake in Sky. Fox’s higher bid for Sky, disclosed early Wednesday, essentially bolsters Fox’s agreement to sell those assets to Disney.
Murdoch’s Fox launched its bid for all of Sky more than 18 months ago. In the year and half since, the deal has been embroiled in a long government review in the U.K., which was expected to draw to a close later this week. More recently, the pursuit morphed into one of the main flashpoints in a much larger corporate battle, pitting Disney against Comcast.
In some ways, the battle for Sky has become a proxy for the bigger media war between Disney and Comcast, for the wider portfolio of Fox assets. Fox first agreed to sell those assets to Disney for $52.4 billion in cash and stock. Comcast swooped in offering $56 billion in cash, prompting Disney’s latest cash-and-stock offer of $71.3 billion.
Sky is one of the crown jewels of Murdoch’s media empire. It could help both Disney and Comcast—even without the other Fox assets—compete with new entrants like Netflix Inc. Sky produces its own content while its satellite and broadband offerings reach millions of European households. That combination—content and distribution—has driven years of consolidation in the U.S. Sky offers both Disney and Comcast a rare vehicle to boost that outside the country.