Comcast outbids Disney with a $65 billion offer for Fox

Bessie Dean
June 14, 2018

Right before the ruling was made, CNBC reported on behalf of unnamed sources that Comcast was considering making a move to get Fox if the AT&T - Time Warner ruling was favorable. It's widely thought that Comcast may now make a bid for Fox, and that CBS and Viacom may merge.

Comcast and Disney desperately want Fox for their own reasons, analysts say.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has repeatedly denied to comment on the deal itself, citing the ongoing regulatory process, but has expressed excitement about his company's plan for how to integrate the assets.

But as the deal has been awaiting government approval, Comcast, led by chief executive Brian Roberts, has been preparing its own bid, taking another run at a company it has long coveted and hoping to sway Murdoch and shareholders with a sweeter offer.

"We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner", the AT&T victory lap reads. While the Department of Justice could still appeal, Comcast seems to believe the gateway is open and made a decision to go in with a heavy hand in regards to 21st Century Fox. In 2017, Disney's Buena Vista held a dominant 21.8% of the movie market share, while Universal Pictures held 13.8% with 20th Century Fox at 12%.

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The Verge reports that Comcast has offered to pay Fox shareholders $35.00 per share in cash, whereas Disney's bid is all tied up in stock. Disney and Comcast had already been at battle in the United Kingdom over Sky TV.

But Fox's size ($28.5 billion in annual revenue in 2017) and franchises (they range from "X-Men" to "Modern Family") make it a prize neither Comcast nor Disney feel they can pass up. It allows AT&T, a phone and pay-TV giant, to absorb the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, "Game of Thrones", coveted sports programming and other "must-see" shows.

Comcast also is making an ambitious push in Europe that centers on United Kingdom pay TV provider Sky.

The US Department of Justice-the nation's antitrust authority-sued to block the deal late previous year, arguing that Time Warner's media brands like HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN would give AT&T outsized power, hurt competition, and lead to higher prices for consumers. Now that you know the merger can go ahead, what kind of effect is it likely to have on media companies, telecom companies, other potential deals in the space? However, if Fox does back out of their proposed deal with Disney in favour of Comcast, they would owe ol' Mickey a breakup fee of $1.52 billion.

Disney reached an agreement in principle to purchase Fox's film and television properties, as well as its stake in streaming platform Hulu and European news outlet Sky, for $52.4 billion in stock.

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