Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has made a “substantial” increase to its bid for Sky, including Sky News, in an attempt to see off rival Comcast and win full ownership of the UK broadcast company.
Fox’s new £24.5bn offer values Sky shares at £14 each, up from its £11.7bn initial bid valuing shares at £10.75 each. Sky’s earnings (EBITDA) for 2017 were reported at £2.25bn.
Sky has said Fox’s new offer represents a “substantial increase in value” on Comcast’s £22bn bid and its board has recommended the deal to shareholders.
Murdoch is bidding to buy the 61 per cent of Sky he doesn’t already own, but the takeover will only be supported by the UK Government on the condition that Sky News is sold off.
Currently Disney is lined up to take on Sky News should Fox win the bidding war with Comcast.
A Fox spokesperson said of the new offer: “As the founding shareholder of Sky, we have remained deeply committed to bringing these two organisations together to create a world-class business positioned to deliver the very best entertainment experiences well into the future.
“We strongly believe that a combined 21CF and Sky will be a powerful driver for the continued growth and vibrancy of the UK and broader global creative industries.
“The enhanced scale and capabilities of the combination will enrich Sky’s ability to continue on its mission for years to come, especially at a time of dynamic change in our industry.”
Fox first announced its Sky takeover bid on 7 December 2016, prompting an investigation by broadcast regulator Ofcom that in turn led to a full six-month probe by the UK competition watchdog over concerns about media plurality and broadcasting standards following the buyout.
The Competition and Markets Authority ruled in January that the Fox takeover was “not in the public interest” amid concerns it would give the Murdoch Family Trust, which controls Fox and News Corp (ultimate owners of the Sun and Times newspapers) “increased influence” over public opinion and the UK’s political agenda.
Said Fox: “We said when we announced our proposed acquisition of Sky that we were firmly committed to UK’s creative industries and the contribution they make to the UK economy.
“We remain committed to the UK and believe that our offer for Sky will bring the best value for all the company’s stakeholders…”
Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire