July 12, 2018 / 7:06 AM / 5 months ago

Sky shares rally after Comcast and Fox go head-to-head in bid battle

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) - Shares in Sky jumped higher on Thursday after Comcast submitted a $34 billion bid for the group just hours after Rupert Murdoch raised his offer, escalating a trans-Atlantic bidding war for the European pan-TV group.

Comcast, the world’s biggest entertainment group, said it had secured the backing of Sky’s independent directors for a 14.75 pounds per share offer that came just 16 hours after Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox had raised its bid to 14 pounds a share.

The speed with which Comcast’s Brian Roberts returned with a higher offer was designed to show how determined he is to buy the group which is present in 23 million homes across Europe.

Sky’s shares were up 3 percent at 15.38 pounds on Thursday as investors bet the battle has further to run for a group which owns a slate of top sport and original drama content.

The fight for Britain’s leading pay-TV group is part of a bigger battle being waged in the entertainment industry as the world’s media giants spend tens of billions of dollars to better compete against Netflix and Amazon.com.

Comcast and Walt Disney are locked in a separate $70 billion-plus battle to buy most of Fox’s assets, which would include Sky, and Disney is backing Murdoch in his pursuit of the British company. (Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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