Murdoch's Fox trumps Comcast with agreed $32.5 billion bid for Sky

Currently Comcast’s $29 billion bid has been accepted by U.K. regulators without conditions

Comcast acted swiftly after Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox announced in the wee hours of Wednesday morning that it would pay the equivalent of $32.5 billion for Sky, topping Comcast's existing $31 billion offer for a business that many believe could be facing modest future growth in its core satellite-television business as Europeans look more to streaming entertainment.

The clock was ticking on Fox to make a higher bid for Sky, because Comcast faces a deadline of Friday to formally deliver its offer documents to shareholders of the London-based company, under United Kingdom takeover rules.

It now remains to be seen whether Comcast will beef up its bid even further to beat Fox's richer offer.

But Disney and Fox are determined to keep their deal together - Murdoch has favored Disney in negotiations over the sale of 21st Century Fox assets, including Fox's stake in Sky, to Disney.

The world's biggest entertainment company and owner of NBC and Universal Pictures gate crashed Murdoch's bid for Sky in February.

Sky shares traded at 14.85 pounds as of 8:14 a.m.in London.

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Disney secured conditional USA approval to buy the assets last month, giving it an edge over Comcast's bid.

Comcast and Walt Disney (DIS.N) are locked in a separate $70 billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox's assets, which would include Sky.

Sky's independent directors accepted the latest Fox offer.

Both Comcast and Disney have indicated that they would divest Fox's 22 regional sports networks in order to gain approval for their respective deals.

Should Disney succeed, it will obtain Fox's 39 per cent stake in Sky as part of the package. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer. The current bid by Fox has been stalled for months as first Britain's media regulator and then its competition watchdog reviewed the politically sensitive matter, examining whether Fox's ownership of Sky would concentrate too much power in Murdoch's hands and whether the Murdoch family would be "fit and proper" owners.

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