Comcast Launches Bid For Fox, Can All-Out War With Disney Be Avoided?

Brian Roberts

21st Century Fox, the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News, confirmed Wednesday night that it had received Comcast's offer.

Comcast on Wednesday bid $65 billion in cash for 21st Century Fox's media assets - handily topping an earlier Disney $52 billion all-stock offer.

Comcast's latest overture - the second it's made in the months since Disney first struck its initial agreement with Fox late previous year - follows a court ruling earlier this week that cleared a path for another giant media merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

While Comcast has made no secret of its desire to buy up Fox from the Murdoch clan, the chances of any deal actually going through were undercut by fears the merger would not be passed by government regulators.

The bid for Twenty-First Century Fox includes the group's movie studio, all of Fox's televison networks, and the company's stakes in Hulu, Sky and Star TV. "Comcast executives had awaited the decision in that case" NYT reports, "before mounting their bid for 21st Century Fox".

Yesterday, the Department of Justice suffered its first antitrust loss in court since 2004, paving the way for AT&T to merge with Time Warner and opening the floodgates for similar mergers in the near future.




Comcast said it meant to pursue its $30 billion acquisition of Sky Plc in parallel with its Fox bid. Comcast was looking to make a bid for Fox past year, but that fell apart amid concerns that the government would block the deal, but the recent AT&T/Time Warner decision has clearly renewed their confidence. I definitely feel like this Disney's bid makes the most logical sense, as the current cash difference in offers could potentially be made back many times over.

Disney and Comcast could even end up splitting ownership. It has been reported though that Fox execs are still leaning towards Disney and have asked their shareholders to do the same.

The firm is offering Fox $35 per share in cash, which it says provides more shareholder certainty and is 19% higher than Disney's proposal, which involves exchanging shares.

Both deals share similarities: AT&T and Comcast are distributors trying to buy content creators. Disney and Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fox said it would "carefully review and consider" the offer.

Comcast said it is confident it will win regulatory approval and that its new offer "fully addresses" the stated concerns. Like Disney, Comcast is willing to divest Fox's regional sports networks if regulators demand it, according to company filings.

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