21st Century Fox filed paperwork Tuesday that gives the company several more weeks to come up with a new bid to take over pay-TV giant Sky. Fox, which is locked in a fierce bidding war with Comcast, now has until Sept. 22 to produce a new, improved offer.
Fox was legally required to formally publish, by the end of Thursday, an “offer document” outlining its most recent bid for Sky, which it made last month. That bid, for the 61% of Sky that Fox does not already own, valued the pan-European pay-TV service at £14 per share.
Comcast has countered with its own, richer bid of £14.75 share, which values Sky at $34 billion. At present, the recommendation of Sky’s independent directors is to accept Comcast’s bid.
Fox will issue its latest earnings report Wednesday morning. It had been expected to signal its intentions about Sky before then. If it succeeds in buying up Sky, ownership will ultimately pass to Disney, which is completing a deal to acquire most of Fox’s entertainment assets.
Whichever of the two American media giants prevails in the race to own Sky will add a major European player to its portfolio. Sky operates in Britain, Germany and Italy, and has been described by Disney boss Bob Iger as a “crown jewel” and by Comcast chief Brian Roberts as a “great business.” It boasts 23 million subscribers in the U.K., Ireland, Germany Austria and Italy, has dived into making original TV shows such as “Riviera” and is moving into film.