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

Jurassic World produced by Comcast's Hollywood studio Universal

"Comcast believes that, combined, Comcast and Sky will create a business equipped to compete more effectively in a rapidly changing and highly competitive industry", the company said in its announcement.

Sky immediately withdrew its recommendation to its shareholders to accept the Fox bid.

Since Rupert Murdoch's Fox made an approach to snap up the 61% of Sky it did not already own in December 2016, the deal has been and remains the subject of regulatory scrutiny. The Comcast offer stands at £12.50 per share, as per its initial notice of a potential offer in late February.

Sky's independent directors welcomed Comcast's 12.50 pound per share bid and said they would now engage with both Comcast and Fox.

Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said Sky withdrawing its recommendation was what it wanted to achieve by formalizing its offer on Wednesday. Sky is a highly complementary business and will expand Comcast's global footprint in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. "A further announcement will be made in due course".

"21CF remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced on 15th December 2016 and is now considering its options", the company said.

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'We think a credible counter-bid would be at £13.75 (plus the dividend payment), offering a £1.25 premium to the stated Comcast bid (i.e. 10% premium).

There was also a commitment not to secure any United Kingdom newspaper ownership for at least five years.

Comcast laid out a strategy that showed it was interested in being a good corporate citizen in Britain, promising to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe, maintaining Skys U.K. headquarters and using the acquisition to expand its global footprint.

"We also understand the role that Sky plays in United Kingdom society and in its customers' lives and we are determined to be responsible and trusted owners of Sky", Roberts said.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of Comcast's offer: "Part of the reason the value of the deal is significantly higher than what Fox originally put forward is that Sky has since secured three more years of rights to Premier League football at a reduced cost".

That is because Comcast has a minimal United Kingdom media market presence.

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