June 19, 2018

Comcast prepares to top Disney's $50 billion offer for Fox

25 May 2018, 09:41 | Lionel James

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Comcast says it may make an offer for Twenty-First Century Fox, opening the door for a bidding war with Disney. It's widely assumed that a superior rival offer for the Fox media assets came from Comcast earlier this spring, but that Fox preferred the lower regulatory risk of selling to Disney.

In the release, the company acknowledges that Fox has already "agreed to sell" their business to Disney, but they claim their offer would be all-cash and "at a premium" to the value of Disney's current all-share offer.

Disney in December offered stock then worth $52.4 billion to buy Fox's film, television and worldwide businesses to beef up its offering against streaming rivals Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Inc (AMZN.O).

The Fox and Sky deals would transform Comcast into a global entertainment giant that could compete with Netflix and break out of the USA market with its melting cable-subscriber base.

At stake are such assets as FX Networks, National Geographic, a 30-percent stake in Hulu, and the 20th Century Fox film and television production studios, which include the movie rights for the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool.

Like Disney, it wants to buy all of Fox's assets except its news channel and main sports and business networks. During an earnings call two weeks ago, executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch said the company would not "engage in a lot of speculation around this", though he added that Fox is "committed to our agreement with Disney".

"While no final decision has been made, at this point the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced". "The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast ... would be at least as favourable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer". Disney's stock was down 1 percent, while Fox shares were up 0.9 percent.

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Comcast chief Brian Roberts has laid down the gauntlet to Rupert Murdoch by declaring an audacious bid to disrupt the mogul's exit from global entertainment.

Comcast won approval on Monday from the United Kingdom government to move ahead with its offer for Sky.

Earlier this week, Comcast's bid for Sky was given a boost when the culture secretary said he was "minded not" to refer it to broadcasting regulator Ofcom to assess any potential public interest concerns.

The fight for 21st Century Fox comes as traditional media groups scramble to consolidate in the face mounting competition from online challengers like Netflix and Amazon. Some reports said Murdoch had previously rejected an offer from Comcast.

Updated May 23, 2018, with more details about another Comcast offer.

We have recently reported on the rumors of Comcast coming back in, and the fact that Disney could be prepared to let go of Sky TV in order to make sure they get their hands on those IP's.

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