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London – British regulators say Comcast has beat 21st Century Fox in a rare auction that allowed both sides to bid for European broadcaster Sky.

After three rounds of bidding behind closed doors, Comcast offered the higher price of $22.58 per share, the equivalent of nearly $39 billion. Fox offered $20.47 per share.

The regulator, the Takeover Panel, set up the auction to reduce uncertainty for Sky. It now gives Sky shareholders a firm bid to evaluate after Fox and Comcast engaged in a series of counteroffers.

Fox had long been trying to acquire the 61 percent of Sky it doesn’t already own. Comcast wants to grow its operations in Europe.

Sky is Europe’s largest pay-television operator, with 22.5 million customers in seven countries.

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