BSkyB raises bid stakes

BRITISH SKY Broadcasting, Rupert Murdoch's satellite broadcaster, yesterday raised the stakes in its bid for Manchester United, revealing that it had taken a 9 per cent stake in the football club, writes Peter Thal Larsen.

BSkyB, which has offered pounds 623.4m for Manchester United, bought the shares on Thursday to bolster its defences against a possible counter-bid. Martin Edwards, Manchester United's chief executive, has irrevocably committed his 14 per cent stake to BSkyB.

The company was able to buy the shares because Manchester United's share price is at a discount to the value of the offer. BSkyB's cash and shares bid values each Manchester United share at 423p. Yesterday, Manchester United shares closed down 0.5p at 221.5p.

Aston Villa was yesterday forced to deny that it was in takeover talks. In a statement to the Stock Exchange, the Birmingham club said that "discussions with Media companies are part of the club's normal business and continue on a regular basis". However, it ruled out a buyer taking a strategic stake or making an offer for the club.

Meanwhile David Moores, the chairman and majority shareholder of Liverpool, ruled out a takeover of the club.

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