Comcast challenges Rupert Murdoch with rival bid for British broadcaster Sky

(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Comcast)

NEW YORK — Comcast just crashed Rupert Murdoch’s efforts to take control of British broadcaster Sky.

Comcast announced Tuesday that it’s proposing a higher bid for Sky, which values the British company at £22 billion ($31 billion) including debt.

Sky’s shares soared more than 18% on the news.

Comcast’s planned offer of £12.50 per share beats the £10.75 per share offered by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, whose bid has run into difficulties with regulators.

The U.S. cable giant is a daunting rival for Fox with far greater financial firepower. At around $184 billion, Comcast’s market value is more than twice that of Fox.

“Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. “We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s UK headquarters.”

Murdoch has been trying for years to take control of Sky, of which Fox already owns about 39%.

Last month, a UK regulator advised that the government should block the Fox bid to buy the remaining 61% of Sky because it would give one family — the Murdochs — too much control over media in the UK.

Related: Fox steps up efforts to placate UK regulators

Fox has since proposed several measures to try to assuage the regulator’s fears over the Murdochs’ potential influence.

Rupert Murdoch and one of his sons, Lachlan Murdoch, are Fox’s two co-chairmen. The other son, James Murdoch, is CEO. The family also controls News Corp., which owns three of Britain’s biggest newspapers: The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

Fox’s bid for Sky has also been complicated by Disney’s offer to buy a major chunk of Fox, including its existing stake in Sky.