Sky agrees to improved £24.5bn bid from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox

OFCOM Considers The Multi-billion Pound Takeover Of SKY By 21st Century Fox
Sky and 21st Century Fox have reached a new agreement (Source: Getty)

Sky has agreed to an improved offer from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox which outbids rival Comcast.

The new deal values Sky at £24.5bn, about 12 per cent higher than Comcast's bid.

Each Sky shareholder will receive 1400p in cash per share.

Fox has been searching for approval for the deal, which will see it acquire the 61 per cent stake in Sky it does not already own, since 2016.

It must still be approved by the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

On Monday Matt Hancock, who previously held the role, was made health secretary and replaced in the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) by Jeremy Wright.

The new culture secretary said he expects to keep to the timetable already set out by his predecessor and will announce a final decision by the end of the week.

If Wright gives the green light to the new offer, then Fox will have 28 days to notify shareholders to vote on the deal.

At the end of the week, Comcast reaches the deadline to put in a counter offer for Sky - if it chooses to do so then Sky investors will have 60 days to decide on that deal under takeover rules.

The battle for Sky is raging while a separate tussle for Fox's entertainment assets goes on between Comcast and Disney.

Last month, Disney raised its offer for Fox's stake in Sky, as well as its movie studios, cable channels and streaming website Hulu, to £54bn, bigger than Comcast's $54 a share bid.

George Salmon, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said it was highly likely that Comcast would come back with another offer for Sky.

"There’s enough sub-plots in the race to acquire Sky to commission a prime-time drama," he explained.

"Fox coming back in for Sky isn’t a surprise in itself, but the fact the offer is slightly behind what some had anticipated brings another twist. In fact, there’s every chance it might entice another counter from Comcast. That might explain why the shares still trade above the latest offer price."

Salmon added that a bidding war could drive Sky's price up considerably.

"Whoever ends up in control will have acquired an attractive asset, but the price tag can’t be ignored," he continued. "Before Fox’s original offer, Sky was trading at under £8 a share. Yes, securing another 3 years of Premier League football at a lower cost is a significant development, but if the bidding war rumbles on much longer, the risk of over-paying becomes all the more real."

Read more: Hancock expected to make decision on Murdoch's Sky takeover this week

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