"In order to provide an orderly framework for the resolution of this competitive situation, and in accordance with Rule 32.5, the panel executive has, after discussions with the parties, established an auction procedure", the regulator said in a statement. Disney has already beaten off Comcast to secure most of Murdoch's Fox entertainment assets for $71 billion, including its 39 percent stake in Sky.
The bidding war for Sky plc (Frankfurt: 893517 - news), the owner of Sky News, is to enter a rare auction process unless a victor emerges by close of business on Friday.
Britain's top pay-TV company has been in play since December 2016, when Fox offered to buy out Sky's other shareholders.
Comcast, which owns the parent company of NBC News, NBCUniversal, now leads Fox in the fight with a $34.3 billion offer.
In February, Sky Sports won the rights to UK Premier League TV packages, and Sky also licenses shows including Game of Thrones, as well as producing its own original content.
Before then, the last auction had been in January 2007 when, after an eight hour contest, Tata Steel of India triumphed against Brazilian firm CSN with a £6.2bn bid for Corus, the owner of British Steel.
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An auction for Sky, which broadcasts to 23 million households across Europe, would the biggest ever deal in the United Kingdom to be decided by a panel-run auction. The auction will formally begin at 5pm on Friday and conclude at the.
Shares of Sky, which are now valued at 1475p under Comcast's latest offer, were up 1p at £15.81p at 13:05 BST. They would not be bidding blind and would know the outcome of the first round, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.
It is possible that auction could end with both Fox and Comcast offering the same price for Sky, the Panel said.
Shareholders will have to vote on the final bids by October 11. In this round, Fox and Comcast can make their offers contingent on the other making a new bid.
The battle for Sky is set to go to an auction, which will be settled Saturday.
The United Kingdom's Takeover Panel will regulate the auction and disclosed how the process will work Thursday, reported The Wall Street Journal.