Rupert Murdoch’s £18bn bid to buy Sky has been challenged by a rival £22bn offer from Comcast, the US TV and film giant which owns NBC, Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation.
Its move is the latest complication for Mr Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox which has already seen competition regulators make a preliminary ruling that its take-over of the UK’s largest pay-TV firm would not be in the public interest due to Mr Murdoch’s control of News UK.
Fox is currently seeking to provide reassurance that Sky News would remain fully impartial and autonomous if its bid was allowed to proceed.
Shares in Sky have risen in recent weeks and Comcast’s higher offer could prove more attractive to investors.
Brian Roberts, Comcast’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We think that Sky would be very valuable to us,” adding that the firm is looking “to acquire over 50% of the Sky shares.”
Sky has over 20 million customers across the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Germany, and also retails content via its Now TV streaming brand.
Roberts said the UK “is and will remain a great place to do business,” adding that his firm wants to “use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe”.
Comcast already operates in the UK via its Universal and Syfy channels, as well as its reality TV Video on Demand service, hayu.
In a document accompanying its bid, Comcast said: “The U.K. has a history of strength in the creative industries, with numerous creative and production talent and facilities.
“The business friendly environment and robust legal framework concerning intellectual property, as well as the U.K.’s connections to European, U.S., and other international audio-visual sectors make the U.K. market an attractive investment destination for companies like NBCUniversal.”