Comcast is set to secure ownership of Sky, the UK’s largest pay-TV operator, ending a keenly fought contest between it and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
In addition to its UK operations, which include the Now TV streaming service, Sky operates in several European countries including Italy, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Spain.
The race to buy Sky started last year with a bid from Fox for the 61% of the firm it doesn’t already own.
Fox’s approach, which had long been expected, was controversial with many UK politicians and media plurality campaigners who opposed any increase in the firm’s shareholding due to Mr Murdoch’s newspaper interests.
Ministers eventually imposed conditions on a Fox takeover, mandating that Sky News be sold off and the new owner provided with a multi-year dowry to ensure it remained commercially viable.
In April Comcast, which has no news interests in the UK, entered the bidding with a £22bn bid which was cleared by ministers and competition authorities without any conditions.
Both suitors then increased their offers, with Fox signalling its willingness to pay £24.5bn to conclude the deal, an offer quickly trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast.
Earlier this week the UK’s Takeover Panel said the contest would be resolved by a blind auction taking place this weekend.
On Saturday the panel announced that after three rounds of bidding, Comcast had tabled an offer worth £17.28 per Sky share, valuing the company at more than £30bn.
Its offer was significantly higher than Fox’s bid of £15.67 per share.
Sky’s independent directors are expected to recommend the bid to shareholders on Monday.
Earlier this year Comcast said it “has long admired Sky and believes it is an outstanding company and a great fit with” its existing content and subscription businesses.
On Saturday Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, said: “Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team.
“This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.
“We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018.”