21st Century Fox Inc. is under increased pressure to boost its takeover offer for Sky plc after the British company secured a range of Premier League rights packages.
Following the exclusive sports deal, Sky investor Polygon Global Partners said the earlier agreed offer by Fox now undervalues the company, Reuters reported.
Sky's shares increased Feb. 14 by 3.5% to £10.98, higher than Fox's £10.75 per share offer.
The Premier League said Feb. 13 that of the seven rights packages up for grabs, it so far awarded five packages of 32 soccer matches each with a combined value of £4.46 billion.
Sky secured packages B, C, D and E with a total of 128 matches. The company will pay £1.193 billion per year under the three-year contract, £199 million or 16% lower than the current agreement.
Meanwhile, rival BT said it secured package A containing 32 matches, which will cost £295 million per season.
Sky shareholders are reportedly gearing up to face down Fox when the deal is put to a shareholder vote later this year.
So far, EU antitrust regulators and Ireland approved the proposed takeover. However, the U.K's Competition and Markets Authority ruled in January that the transaction may not be "in the public interest" on media plurality grounds, as a takeover by Fox would place Sky News, The Times and The Sun all in the hands of the Murdoch Family Trust.
Therefore, the watchdog proposed remedies that include spinning off or divesting Sky News, blocking the deal entirely or behavioral solutions, such as appointing independent directors.
The deal faces political pressure in Britain due to public outrage over the phone-hacking scandal that involved Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, which derailed a prior bid in 2011.
Murdoch's first attempt to take over the pay TV giant would have combined 40% of the newspaper market in the U.K. and around 35% of the TV market, Claire Enders, of London-based research firm Enders Analysis said in an earlier interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Fox and News Corp. have since split into separately traded companies, making a deal more likely to go through, according to numerous industry observers.