Comcast No Longer Seeking To Buy 20th Century Fox

Bessie Dean
July 20, 2018

Disney CEO Bob Iger referred to Sky as the "crown jewels" of Fox assets, so don't think for a second Disney won't be pushing Fox's Rupert Murdoch to make sure they get that deal over the line. Comcast raised its bid on Sky to $34 billion a week ago.

Under the deal that Fox has with Disney, Murdoch must gain consent to raise his bid. Sky the UK's biggest pay TV service provides instant access to the European market that both Comcast and Disney are desperate for and it can not be completely included in the deal for Fox.

Comcast is dropping its bid for Fox's entertainment businesses, paving the way for Disney to boost its upcoming streaming service by buying the studios behind "The Simpsons" and X-Men. A Comcast-Fox merger, like a Disney-Fox merger, would have been similarly vertical by combining a distributor with a content producer. After we thought the deal was already finished, Comcast came swooping in and kicked the bidding from $52 billion up to $65 billion. The company is still looking to purchase worldwide broadcaster Sky.

Matters have also been more complicated for Comcast after the DOJ's move to appeal a court ruling that approved AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner.

Comcast was drawn into a bidding war for Fox because of the scarcity of big media assets up for sale, given that the industry is dominated by powerful families and personalities reluctant to cede control.

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Iger and Disney have coveted Fox's path into global markets.

A top U.S. Justice Department official, Makan Delrahim, praised the deal as being carefully sculpted to avoid antitrust concerns, signaling federal regulators were unlikely to block it.

Not every analyst is sold on the purported benefits of Sky to Comcast. And asked Thursday morning if the Comcast announcement in any way diminished Fox's appetite for Sky, a Murdoch spokesman emailed to NPR a one-word response: "Nope".

But Fox is now serving as a stalking horse for Disney's interest in Sky. "I don't think Disney wants to give up Sky", said Crispin Odey, whose eponymous hedge fund owns Sky shares.

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