Comcast has increased its offer for British pay-TV company Sky PLC to $34 billion (£25.9 billion), roughly $2 billion higher than Fox’s most recent offer.
Earlier on Wednesday, Fox raised its own offer for the media giant to $32.5 billion (£24.5 billion). Comcast said that its increased offer has been recommended by the Sky Independent Committee of Directors.
Comcast’s new all-cash offer translates to £14.75 a share, which is roughly five percent higher than Fox’s £14 a share bid.
“Comcast has long admired Sky and believes it is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast,” the company said in its release about the new offer. “Today’s announcement further underscores Comcast’s belief and its commitment to owning Sky.”
The move by Comcast is the latest volley between CEO Brian Roberts and Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch over who gets the keys to Sky, which counts nearly 23 million customers in key parts of Europe, including Germany, Italy and Austria, along with the U.K. and Ireland.
In the U.S., Comcast is still battling with Disney to buy the film and TV assets from Fox. Fox’s stake in Sky is part of its proposed merger with Disney, though the deal was not contingent on that. Fox has set a July 27 shareholder meeting to formally vote on the Disney sale, which has already received approval from the Department of Justice.
Sky’s businesses would grow Comcast’s international revenue from 9 percent of its overall revenue to 25 percent. For Fox, Sky is a bit of a passion project for Rupert Murdoch, who founded the satellite broadcaster in 1990, and already owns 39 percent of the company and has had his eye on gaining full control for years.
The U.K. government had already approved Comcast earlier offer in June, with Matt Hancock, then-secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, who said at the time that “the proposed merger does not raise public interest concerns.”
However, Fox was given the go-ahead to continue efforts to purchase Sky as well, on the condition that Fox sells off Sky’s 24-hour news channel to Disney in the planned sale of certain Fox film and television assets to the Mouse House. Disney has pledged a 15-year, $2 billion commitment to fund Sky News if it acquires the channel in the Fox deal.
Hancock, meanwhile, resigned amid a British cabinet shakeup this week and has been replaced in his role by Jeremy Wright.
According to Bloomberg, the British government has already signaled willingness to approve Fox’s offer, with its final decision due Thursday.