Comcast is officially bidding to buy European pay-TV giant Sky

Jurassic World produced by Comcast's Hollywood studio Universal

It represents a 16pc improvement of Fox's £10.75 per share offer for the 61pc of Sky it does not own, agreed with the company's independent directors in late 2016.

Sky shares rose 4.1 percent to 13.62 pounds by 1107 GMT - well above the offer price, implying that some shareholders anticipated a bidding war.

London-based pay TV operator Sky says it is withdrawing its recommendation to shareholders to accept 21st Century Fox's bid in a move that came just moments after Comcast placed a better offer on the table.

The owner of NBC Universal announced terms for a pre-conditional cash offer this morning.

The cable company also announced its intention to enter into legally binding commitments regarding Sky and investment in the United Kingdom, including for Sky News, the loss-making...

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Comcast's bid throws down the gauntlet to Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney as they vie for Britain's largest pay-TV broadcaster.

"We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast", Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast, said in a statement.

It said it would expect the deal to complete before the end of 2018.

The boutique London firm Robey Warshaw advised Comcast on the offer along with the investment banks Evercore and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Comcast Corp. posted earnings of $3.12 billion.

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Comcast also said it would establish an independent board for Sky News as a bulwark against editorial interference, which has been a major concern for politicians and regulators in the Murdoch pursuit of Sky.

And in a bid to head off any competition concerns, the group said it would vow not to acquire any majority stake in any United Kingdom newspapers for five years.

"At this time, the Independent Committee notes that both offers are subject to pre-conditions and neither offer is now capable of being put to shareholders", Sky said.

A tie-up between the two would create a business with around 52 million customers and give Comcast a platform for growth across Europe.

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