Sky up after rebuffing offers

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Shares in Sky rose 5 per cent on Monday, topping the FTSE 100 leaderboard, after a media report said the Murdoch family had rebuffed two offers for their 39 per cent stake in the pan-European pay-TV group.

French media conglomerate Vivendi, the owner of pay-TV group Canal+, was considering a potential acquisition of Sky, Reuters said in April.

The Sunday Telegraph said Vincent Bollore, the biggest shareholder in Vivendi, held informal talks with the Murdochs in the spring, citing financial industry sources.

However, the Murdochs wanted 18 pounds a share for their stake, controlled by 21st Century Fox, a more than 70 per cent premium, the newspaper said.

It also said mobile group Vodafone made an informal approach to the Murdochs last year about a deal, but did not pursue the talks after the family demanded a similar premium.

An offer by Vodafone would make less sense as Sky does not own its own superfast fibre network. Vodafone has bought fibre networks in Germany and Spain and is looking to expand this infrastructure.

Sky’s shares were up 4.4 per cent at 1,084 pence at 0736 GMT, giving the group a market capitalisation of £18.6bn.

Analysts at Liberum said the claim that the talks broke down over price indicted the Murdochs were not averse to the principle of selling the stake.

They also said that a Fox bid for the rest of Sky was now less likely as “it would be hard for Fox to argue that Vivendi should pay 18 pounds a share for Sky without offering a similar amount to other shareholders, and we do not see Fox doing this.”