By Ovunc Kutlu
The battle between Comcast and Twenty-First Century Fox to acquire British media firm Sky Plc. will be settled in an auction, the U.K.'s Panel on Takeovers and Mergers said Thursday.
The bidding process for Europe's largest Pay TV broadcaster with 23 million subscribers will begin Friday and end late Saturday, consisting a maximum of three rounds, according to a statement by the panel.
"In the first round, only the offeror with the lowest offer as at the commencement of the auction may make an increased bid. In the second
round, only the offeror that was not eligible to make a bid in the first round may make an increased bid," the statement said.
"If the auction procedure has not concluded after the second round, there will be a final round, in which both offerors may make an increased bid," it added.
The offerors can only make a fixed price bid in cash, pounds sterling, and no other form of consideration is permitted, the panel said.
Twenty-First Century Fox offered £10.75 per Sky share in December, and later Comcast announced in April a cash offer of £12.50 per share.
When Twenty-First Century Fox sweetened its offer to £14 July 11, Comcast increased its cash offer for to £14.75 later that day.
Currently, Comcast is the higher bidder for Sky with £14.75.
Twenty-First Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and his family hold 39 percent stake in Sky through Fox.
While Comcast shares were up 1.5 percent on New York Stock Exchange at 3.25 p.m. EST (1925GMT), Fox shares were down 0.1 percent.