US cable giant Comcast has submitted the winning bid in the auction for broadcaster Sky, valuing the company at more than £30bn.
Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch’s Fox in a rare blind auction process set by the UK’s Takeover Panel.
Sky’s 23m subscribers and Premier League football rights make it one of Europe’s most profitable TV companies.
The UK company’s board is now expected to recommend the bid to shareholders before offer documents are sent out.
Comcast’s bid equated to £17.28 per share, beating Fox’s of £15.67 per share.
Fox had looked set to take over the 61% of Sky it does not already own until Comcast topped its bid.
In July, Fox raised its offer to £24.5bn, but this was trumped by a £26bn bid from Comcast.
The process has also been beset by regulatory issues amid concerns over media plurality and the degree of Mr Murdoch’s influence over the UK media landscape.
The future of Sky has been hanging in the balance for more than eight years.
The process began when Mr Murdoch’s News Corp company put forward a bid for full control of what was then BSkyB.
That bid was scuppered by the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed Mr Murdoch’s UK tabloid newspapers and tarnished the firm’s reputation.
The bid was revived in December 2016, by which time News Corp had been broken up, leaving 21st Century Fox as one of its successors.
The process has been complicated by Disney’s deal to buy most of Fox’s assets, which is due to be completed next year if approved by international regulators.