Comcast challenges Disney for control of 21st Century Fox assets

Los Angeles 2024

Los Angeles 2024

The company said Wednesday that it's preparing to top Disney's bid for most of 21st Century Fox with an all-cash offer.

FBN's Charlie Gasparino discusses how Comcast is preparing an all-cash $60 billion bid for 21st Century Fox assets. It said that any offer it makes will be all cash (Disney's deal is for shares of stock) and would be at a unspecified premium to Disney's deal.

Mr Murdoch's entertainment empire, 21st Century Fox, a year ago agreed to sell its film and television studios, its pay-TV operations including its stake in Sky, and a clutch of other assets, to Disney. But getting the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be a pretty good consolation prize.

Those offers included the potential for Sky News to be owned by Disney - bypassing concerns that Rupert Murdoch's family would have too much control over United Kingdom media. Disney wouldn't get all that Fox has to offer, however, as Murdoch would still run the Fox News channel, the Fox broadcast network in the US, and the FS1 Sports network, as part of a new company spun off from 21st Century Fox.

On Wednesday evening, Moody's placed Comcast's debt on a review for a possible downgrade, based on the advanced stages of a possible bid for Fox assets. "The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast, including with respect to both the spin-off of "New Fox" and the regulatory risk provisions and the related termination fee, would be at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer".

Shares of Fox climbed as much as 2.4 percent to $39.06, while Disney declined up to 1.9 percent to $102.07.

Further complicating things here is the fact that Comcast is now in a bidding war for Sky. Comcast's offer was higher than Fox's, with bankers and analysts at the time wondering if Fox and/or Disney could counter with a higher offer.

Rumours about Comcast's interests in Fox have circulated for weeks, but it is the first time it has confirmed its intentions. Disney also owns the rights to the Star Wars movie franchise after buying Lucasfilm in October 2012.

Comcast won approval on Monday from the United Kingdom government to move ahead with its offer for Sky. Comcast said it was making its statement "in view of the recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by The Walt Disney Company and Twenty-First Century Fox preparation for their upcoming shareholder meetings to consider the acquisition of Fox by Disney".

Sky's independent board, which had told shareholders to accept Murdoch's offer, withdrew that recommendation in light of Comcast's higher bid. Some reports said Murdoch had previously rejected an offer from Comcast.

Another pending deal that would join telecom and broadband giant AT&T with media-entertainment group Time Warner is being challenged by the US Justice Department in an antitrust suit.

In its statement, per Deadline, Comcast didn't reveal its price for the bid.

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