Comcast challenges Rubert Murdoch with rival bid for UK-based Sky

Jurassic World produced by Comcast's Hollywood studio Universal

Jurassic World produced by Comcast's Hollywood studio Universal

NBCUniversal parent company Comcast has launched a £22 billion (approximately US$31 billion) takeover bid for European satcaster Sky that pits the USA cable company against its previous suitor, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. Britain's competition regulator is conducting an investigation into whether Fox's bid for Sky would give Murdoch and his family - who already own several other media titles in the United Kingdom - too much control over the country's news media.

21st Century Fox has been attempting to take full control of Sky but United Kingdom regulators have expressed concerns about Fox exerting too much power over the British media sector.

In the meantime, Fox has agreed to sell many of its TV and film assets to Walt Disney, including its stake in Sky.

Comcast said in a statement that acquiring Sky would help the company expand its worldwide footprint in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe and serve as a platform for growth across Europe.

Fox said on Wednesday that it remained committed to its offer and was considering its options.

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Comcast also promised not to buy a majority interest in any United Kingdom newspapers for five years and committed to maintaining Sky's headquarters at its current site in Osterley, west London, for five years.

Comcast formalized its offer through what is known as a Rule 2.7 announcement in which it said it was committed to preserving Sky's editorial independence and would not acquire a majority interest in any United Kingdom newspaper for five years "to ensure media plurality is sustained".

Comcast said it had secured a bridge loan of up to 16 billion pounds and a term loan credit agreement of up to 7 billion pounds to fund the deal.

The deal has been held up by concerns about the influence Mr Murdoch could wield over public opinion through owning all of the broadcaster as well as British newspapers including "The Times" and "The Sun".

Sky is a leading consumer entertainment company in Europe, providing entertainment and communications services primarily in the UK, Germany and Italy. "We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast".

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"Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand", he said.

It said Sky would "co-operate fully" with both parties but also welcomed Comcast's bid, saying it believed its voluntary commitments to the company under the offer "should comprehensively address any potential public interest concerns".

Comcast had already bought NBC Universal back in 2011 and now it clearly fancies expanding its operations internationally.

Comcast, which owns cable channels MSNBC and CNBC, has already said it believes its approach would escape concerns over media plurality because of its "minimal presence" in United Kingdom media.

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