21st Century Fox Wins Key Approval In Britain For Sky Deal

The Sky logo is seen at the company's UK headquarters in west Lond

The Sky logo is seen at the company's UK headquarters in west Lond

Comcast, which increased its cash offer to 14.75 pounds per share on Wednesday, said Sky's independent committee of directors have recommended its cash offer.

The British government is expected to finally allow Fox, which is run by Rupert's son James, to buy Sky this week, after the US group agreed to sell Sky's award-winning news channel to Disney to prevent Murdoch from owning too much of the British media. This means it would probably poses a real challenge to Netflix, given Disney's rich content portfolio.

The regulator said it had considered "the relative contribution of Fox's stake in Sky in the valuation work carried out by Disney's financial advisers" as well's Fox's most recent bid for the broadcaster when arriving at the 14 pounds a share price. The New York Times reported Thursday that Comcast will focus on Sky and end its pursuit of Fox.

Jeremy Wright, culture secretary in the United Kingdom, has cleared Rupert Murdoch saying "It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21st Century Fox's bid".

As part of the global standoff, Disney and Comcast are both vying to acquire the entertainment assets of Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. During their review of the deal that acceptance came down to eight factors, one of which was the U.S. Department of Justice's "apparent sensitivity to the potential anti-competitive effects of vertical integration" according to Fox's filing. Iger sees an opportunity to expand Disney's direct to consumer offerings and worldwide presence and make Disney a global entertainment company with the United Kingdom pay-TV operator's 23 million customers. Comcast has already received relevant regulatory approvals in the EU, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Jersey. In the U.S., Comcast rose 0.7 percent to $34.01 and Fox fell 0.2 percent to $47.68.

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For now, investors are waiting to see what Mr. Murdoch will do next. Fox and Disney are prohibited from engaging with Comcast but if Comcast presents an improved offer to the board of Fox, Murdoch is likely to abstain from a vote to decide whether to engage with Comcast to deliver a better offer.

"If you're doing some game theory here, what Comcast should probably want to do if it believes that Disney is going to top any bid it makes for the Fox assets is to bid higher", Rogers said. Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research says it is unlikely that Disney would want to walk away from Sky, noting that the company would not have created such a unit "if they were going to give up on the biggest worldwide asset they were trying to acquire, meaning Sky". He's appealing a decision to approve AT&T Inc.'s acquisition of Time Warner Inc. - a move that could bear relevance to Comcast.

The price set by the Takeover Panel on Friday is the same as Fox's current offer for the 61 percent of Sky that it does not already own, which values the London-listed pay television business as a whole at 24.5 billion pounds ($32.2 billion). Fox recently accepted Disney's $71 billion offer from Disney.

The bidding war, even during deliberation has intensified. This is the case with Disney and Comcast buying Fox's stake in Sky.

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