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

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

LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in Sky (L:) jumped higher on Thursday after Comcast (O:) 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 (O:) 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 (O:) and (O:).

Comcast and Walt Disney (N:) 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.

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