US broadcaster Comcast has put forward a proposal to buy Sky, raising the prospect of a bidding war for the European TV provider with 21st Century Fox.
Comcast said it was prepared to pay £12.50 per share to buy the UK-based company, valuing Sky at £22 billion.
The offer represents a 16 percent premium on Fox’s £10.75 per share offer to acquire the remaining 60.9 percent of Sky that it doesn’t already own, made back in December 2016.
In a statement, Comcast said a deal would expand its international footprint “to more effectively compete in the rapidly changing and intensely competitive entertainment and communications landscape.”
However, Sky responded by saying that "no firm offer has been made" and its shareholders should not take any action.
Fox’s current efforts to buy Sky are currently being investigated by the UK’s competition regulator on plurality and corporate governance grounds.
A deal for Sky is also complicated by Disney’s efforts to acquire 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, which was announced in December.
Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, said: “We think Sky is an outstanding company.
"It has 23 million customers and leading positions in the UK, Italy, and Germany.
“Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming.
"It has great people and a very strong and capable management team.”
He said Comcast plans to use Sky as a “platform for growth in Europe".
He added: “We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s UK headquarters.”
Paolo Pescatore, VP of Multiplay and Media at CCS Insight, said the announcement put "a real spanner in the works” of Sky's future.
“We’ve always said that Comcast has been sniffing around Europe," Pescatore explained.
“It is unsurprising that there is significant interest in Sky as it owns a wealth of content and has done a great job of moving into IP distribution.”
Pescatore said he “strongly expect[s]” to see a bidding war for Sky.
“It has all the assets to compete with the web giants,” he added.