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Comcast has raised the stakes further amidst an escalating bidding war with 21st Century Fox to wrest control of Sky, by putting forward a $34bn counteroffer of its own.

The all-cash offer comfortably exceeds the revised bid of $32.5bn made by Fox, placing the ball squarely back in Rupert Murdoch’s court as the media tycoon contemplates his next move.

Unless he acts fast to raise Fox’s offer once more, the prize is likely to fall into Comcast’s hands after its latest bid was recommended by Sky’s independent committee of directors.

Murdoch had hoped to acquire the remaining 61% stake in Sky he does not own unopposed, until Comcast spied an opportunity to gazump the Australian.

Amidst the fireworks an even bigger battle is taking place with Comcast and Walt Disney engaged in a higher-level tussle to purchase the majority of Fox’s assets, including its 39% stake in Sky, for a figure in excess of $70bn.

The UK government has belatedly given its consent to a Fox takeover of Sky on the proviso that it subsequently sells Sky News to Disney to maintain media plurality.