Bid target Sky reports 9 percent rise in core earnings

Bid target Sky reports 9 percent rise in core earnings
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Andrew Winning(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) - Sky <SKYB.L>, the pay-TV group at the centre of a bidding war between Rupert Murdoch's Fox and Comcast, reported a 9 percent rise in full-year core earnings on Thursday after it added more than 500,000 customers across its European operations.

Comcast <CMCSA.O> is leading the race to buy Sky after it offered 14.75 pounds a share offer earlier this month, valuing the group at $34 billion. The bid came just hours after Fox <FOXA.O> had upped its own bid to 14 pounds.

Sky, which is 39 percent owned by Fox, reported core earnings of 2.35 billion pounds on revenue up 5 percent to 13.59 billion pounds, both beating forecasts by UBS.

Chief executive Jeremy Darroch said it had been an "exceptional year" for the UK-based broadcaster and it was entering its new year with good momentum.

"Over half a million new customers joined Sky this year and we now have 63 million products in customer's homes as they continue to choose Sky over other providers," he said.

Darroch, in the top job since 2007, told BBC Radio it was too early to say whether he would stay with the pan-European group after it is sold. Sky is present in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Italy and Germany.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton)

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