Murdoch’s Fox raises bid for Sky to $32.5 billion

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Sky has always been seen as Comcast's priority by many analysts when it came to bidding on Fox, though it was previously believed that Comcast might be making a play for 100 percent ownership of Sky prior to the bidding war with Disney.

Comcast, which made a $65 billion all-cash offer for the Fox assets last month only for Disney to raise its bid, is talking to private equity firms, including Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) and Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), to gauge interest about acquiring the RSNs, the sources said.

Fox, which owns 39% of Sky and is due to gain British regulatory clearance for the deal this week, upped its offer to £14 ($18.60) a share, from its earlier £10.75 a share.

The effort to buy Sky comes as Fox itself is the object of a takeover battle by Comcast and Disney.

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Its offer represents an 82 percent premium to Sky's shares in 2016 before the takeover drama started, and a multiple of 21 times 2017 earnings per share. Comcast has until the end of this week to make a new offer.

Rupert Murdoch's Fox has been waiting for approval from United Kingdom regulators before putting the deal to shareholders.

Fox has been trying to get approval from United Kingdom regulators since 2016 to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own. According to some shareholders, that has set an implied higher floor for Sky's shares.

The British broadcaster has been the subject of a fierce bidding war between Fox and U.S. cable giant Comcast.

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One hedge fund manager with a stake in Sky welcomed that pledge as a sign that Disney backed Fox in the battle. Murdoch has agreed to sell Fox's entertainment assets including its stake in Sky to Disney, though Comcast is weighing another counteroffer for the Fox portfolio. Analysts said it was not a knock-out, and Fox did not say it was its final offer.

The UK government has already said it's likely to approve Fox's bid for Sky after Fox satisfied concerns over media plurality.

Fox said it had secured the agreement of the independent committee of Sky for the deal.

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