Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Comcast and 21st Century Fox are heading for a rare auction to bid for British broadcaster Sky.
The bidding war between the companies began when Comcast gave an initial offer in April, which prompted Fox to increase its offer. The battle is part of a larger contest between Disney and Comcast to take over many of Fox's media and entertainment assets.
Comcast's $34 billion bid has been the top offer so far. Fox's last bid was $32.5 billion.
Now, an auction will settle the matter. It starts Friday and ends Saturday, Britain's Takeover Panel said Thursday.
The auction will include as many as three rounds and each bid must be made in cash. In the first round, the company with the lowest bid (Fox) can hike its offer. Comcast would then have a chance to up its bid in the second round. If necessary, a third and final round -- where both companies can increase their bids -- will finish the process.
Disney, which has agreed to buy Fox assets, would benefit if Fox wins. Shareholders approved Walt Disney's takeover of 21st Century Fox in a $71 billion deal, both companies announced in July.
Sky is currently valued at around $35 billion.
A takeover of Sky would give either company greater industry reach and an overseas market. It would also provide access to Sky's entry into the gaming market.
Fox, which already owns a 39 percent stake in Sky, originally reached a deal in December 2016. The bidding war was complicated in July when Comcast dropped its bid to buy Fox assets, conceding defeat in a separate bidding war with Disney.
British regulators and politicians have been reviewing concerns about Fox winning the takeover, and the expanded influence it would give the family of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.