USA media company Comcast offered Wednesday to buy British broadcaster Sky Plc for $30 billion, topping a bid from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.
Fox, which already has a 39 percent stake in Sky, first announced its 10.75 pound per share cash offer in December 2016.
Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Sky withdrawing its recommendation on the Fox bid was what the USA cable giant wanted to achieve by formalizing its offer on Wednesday. Fox made that bid in 2016, but it has been having trouble securing regulatory approval as British regulators fear conflicts with Murdoch-owned media outlets like the newspapers The Sun and the Times of London.
But the United Kingdom competition watchdog has raised a host of concerns over the Fox acquisition, while since then, Walt Disney has also agreed to snap up a raft of Fox assets including the Sky 39% stake.
Sky is based in London and has pay-TV operations across Europe, offering a platform for US companies like Comcast and Fox to expand overseas.
Fox said in a statement that it "remains committed" to its offer and "is now considering its options".
Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Sky withdrawing its recommendation was what he hoped to achieve by formalising its offer.
Comcast said it was in talks with Sky's Independent Committee "with a view to obtaining a future recommendation of the acquisition". Comcast's offer comes just days before the May 1 deadline for the Competition and Markets Authority to give its final advice about the Fox bid to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock. "We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast". Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand.
As part of its post-offer assurances, the group confirmed plans to establish a Sky News board, which will be maintained for at least 10 years, as well as promising annual expenditure on Sky News will be at least equal to that of the past financial year.
"The rights may come with multibillion-pound price tags, but Sky has proven the Premier League deals are well worth the outlay".
On Wednesday, Sky also welcomed commitments the US cable giant had made to address potential public-interest concerns over Sky News, its influential 24-hour news channel.
Comcast, which owns Universal Pictures and NBC, said it had formalised its offer to coincide with its own results, giving it an opportunity to explain to investors the merits of the bid.
Comcast, which owns cable channels MSNBC and CNBC, argues its approach would escape concerns over media plurality because of its "minimal presence" in United Kingdom media.
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