Comcast Boosts Offer for European Broadcaster Sky to $34 Billion

The sweetened offer heats up the ongoing bidding war between Comcast and 21st Century Fox.

Philadelphia, United States – June 11, 2013: Comcast Center building on June 11, 2013 in Philadelphia. As of 2012 the 297m tall skyscraper is the tallest building in Philadelphia and 15th tallest in the US. iStock | tupungato

On Wednesday evening, Comcast increased its bid for European broadcaster Sky to $34 billion, trumping 21st Century Fox’s bid of $32.5 billion.

Fox originally raised its bid on Wednesday, which prompted Comcast to quickly submit a counterbid just hours later. The raised offers are the latest moves in a heated international media bidding war that involves Comcast, Fox and Walt Disney.

Both Comcast and Disney have been vying for Fox’s entertainment assets, and the fight is linked to the concurrent contest for Sky.

Fox already owns a 39 percent stake of Sky and is looking to consolidate ownership by acquiring the remaining 61 percent of the company. And depending on how the contest for Sky plays out, Comcast could end up dropping its pursuit of Fox’s other assets.

Comcast says its higher bid for Sky was recommended by Sky’s independent committee of directors. The new Comcast bid represents a five percent premium to the offer Fox announced on Wednesday and is 18 percent higher than its previous bid.

“Comcast has long admired Sky and believes it is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast,” the telecom giant said in an emailed statement released on Wednesday evening. “Today’s announcement further underscores Comcast’s belief and its commitment to owning Sky.”

Comcast has also already received regulatory approvals to acquire Sky and is confident it’ll complete the acquisition before the end of October 2018.

Fox received its regulatory OK from the U.K. government this week.

If Comcast bests Fox in the fight for Sky, advisers may push CEO Brian Roberts to ultimately drop his pursuit of Fox’s assets to focus on the British pay-Tv provider, Bloomberg said. And Comcast is reportedly still assessing its options on the other Fox assets that it’s seeking to win over Disney.

Control of Sky would give Comcast international reach and greater leverage to compete with threats like Netflix. Sky has more than 20 million customers across five European countries and produces its own original content.

The ball is now in Fox’s court. On Wednesday, Fox said in a statement that it acknowledged Comcast’s increased bid.