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Murdoch’s Fox raises bid for Sky to $32.5 billion

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Mai Fyfield is viewed as one of the main architects of Sky's success

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has bid £14 a share for the British pay-TV broadcaster Sky.

Hong Kong-based hedge fund Case Equity Partners, a Sky investor, said the fact Disney was in a slightly more favourable position for Fox's USA media assets meant Comcast would fight even harder to get Sky. At present, Disney appears to have the upper hand in the contest for Fox, stirring speculation that Comcast will redirect its firepower into snatching away Sky as a standalone acquisition.

But Fox must promise to divest Sky News to assuage concerns over Fox controlling too much of the country's news media. Murdoch has agreed to sell Fox's entertainment assets including its stake in Sky to Disney, though Comcast is weighing another counteroffer for the Fox portfolio.

Martin Gilbert, deputy chairman of Sky, said that Comcast's offer represent an "attractive premium to the current alternative offer". And should Comcast be successful in its bid to overtake Disney and buy Fox, Disney could in turn buy those RSN's and fold them into the ESPN brand. Wright's predecessor had previously indicated the deal could go through if Sky was ultimately sold to a third party, like Disney.

"We welcome this increased offer", Martin Gilbert, deputy chairman of Sky, said in an emailed statement.

Sky operates in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy as well as the U.K. It has 22.5 million customers, attracted by offerings such as English Premier League soccer and "Game of Thrones".

Both offers for Sky are part of a larger fight between Comcast and Disney to acquire assets from Fox.

But Disney and Fox are determined to keep their deal together - Murdoch has favored Disney in negotiations over the sale of 21st Century Fox assets, including Fox's stake in Sky, to Disney. News Corp., which is controlled by the Murdochs, withdrew its bid for Sky soon after. Both Fox and Disney have scheduled special shareholder meetings for July 27 in NY to approve the cash-and-stock deal to sell $71 billion in Fox assets to Disney.

Sky's shares were up 3 percent at 15.38 pounds on Thursday, valuing it at 26.6 billion pounds, or $35 billion, as investors bet the battle has further to run for a group which owns a slate of top sport and original drama content.

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