Comcast confirms $60bn plot to challenge to Murdoch deal with Disney

Comcast Preparing

Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst with JBL Advisors, said that Comcast seems intent on winning a bidding war for Fox.

Cable TV giant Comcast says it is considering a takeover offer for Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, setting the stage for showdown with Walt Disney. Fox agreed in December to sell its film and TV studios, cable channels including FX and National Geographic and other assets to Burbank, California-based Disney in an all-stock deal, valued at roughly $52 billion.

Comcast is reportedly preparing a significant, all-cash offer for the Fox assets, according to Variety, and is expected to make the offer in advance of the summer vote for Fox shareholders that will decide which deal to take. After Fox made a takeover offer for the 61 percent stake in Sky that it doesn't already own, Comcast launched a 22 billion pound ($30 billion) counterbid for the business.

"Any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney", said Comcast in its statement. Disney's bid arrived as the company is planning its own streaming services to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu - the latter of which all three companies now own a partial stake in.

After the Justice Department sued to block AT&T (T) from buying CNN parent company Time Warner (TWC), a Disney-Fox or a Comcast-Fox deal would nearly certainly face antitrust scrutiny.

Larry Downes, project director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, said Comcast's interest highlights the fact that content is becoming more important as ways to deliver content proliferate.

Fox and Disney declined to comment.

Either deal would dramatically reshape the media-entertainment landscape and scale back the Fox empire created by Rupert Murdoch, 87.

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

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts met personally with Rupert Murdoch in NY on the deal in late 2017 but was rejected for Disney. But in its most recent earnings call, co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch said that "we are committed to our agreement with Disney" and that board member "are aware of their fiduciary duties on behalf of all shareholders". But the controlling family and shareholders would face pressure if the new offer is better than the one from Disney.

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

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.

The battle over Fox is emblematic of how rapidly the media industry is changing.



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