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Higher £22bn offer for media group

Sky withdraws Murdoch support as Comcast bids

Sky has withdrawn its support for Rupert Murdoch’s bid after US cable company Comcast gatecrashed the recommended deal with a higher £22 billion cash offer.

UK-based Sky is at subject to a three-way battle for control which also involves Walt Disney.

Comcast’s offer is worth £12.50 per share but the Sky board advised shareholders to take no action while it engages in talks with its suitors.

Murdoch’s Twenty First Century Fox announced a £10.75 per share offer for the 61% of Sky it doesn’t own, but the deal has been held up concerns about the influence Murdoch could wield over public opinion through owning all of the broadcaster as well a number of national newspapers.

The proposed combination has been further complicated by Fox’s agreement to sell many of its TV and film assets to Disney, including its 39% stake in Sky.

Sky today said it welcomed Comcast’s firm intention to bid for it, and its commitments to address potential public interest concerns over Sky News.

In a statement, Sky said: “As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the Independent Committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by 21CF on 15 December 2016 and is now terminating the co-operation agreement entered into with 21CF on the same date.”.

Sky shares rose by about 4% to £13.60 in morning trade – well above the offer price, implying that some shareholders anticipated a bidding war.  Fox said it was considering its options.

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