Economy

Comcast confirms it's close to bidding for Fox to beat out Disney

Comcast confirms it's close to bidding for Fox to beat out Disney

United States media and cable giant Comcast said today it is preparing an all-cash offer for the key television and entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox that would top an offer on the table from Walt Disney Co. While the company said that "no final decision has been made", it said that "any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney".

The cable giant, which owns NBCUniversal, had in December bowed out of the bidding process just before Fox accepted the Disney deal, which includes the 20th Century Fox movie and TV studio, all the worldwide pay TV properties including its stake in Sky, as well as a number of other assets.

The Comcast deal would include Fox's 39% stake in European TV company Sky.

These merger talks have been of special interest to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many of whom are eager to see Disney, the parent company of Marvel Studios, regain the rights to make live-action movies and television featuring the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, whose rights were sold to Fox years ago. There's also the stake in Sky TV that Fox already owns and a cable group with channels including FX Networks, National Geographic, 300-plus worldwide channels and 22 regional sports networks. Fox will spin off the Fox Broadcasting network and local stations, Fox News, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a new company, called New Fox.

Disney has agreed to pay $52.4bn for Fox, but Comcast said it was in the "advanced stages" of preparing a better bid. "The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast ... would be at least as favourable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer". Comcast shares were down 1.6 percent at $31.97 and Disney shares fell 1.7 percent to $102.26.

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Confirming speculation, Comcast is "considering" a rival bid for 21st Century Fox businesses intended for sale to Walt Disney. Fox shareholders will vote on the Disney deal later this summer.

The likelihood seems to still favour Disney, as financial experts are slightly bewildered by Comcast's reasons for desiring all the movie and TV IP's. "It also opens up doors to own an even richer content library to counter heavyweights such as Netflix", he said.

Well, the acquisition of 20 Century Fox isn't a done deal just yet. And this wouldn't be the first time that Comcast and Disney have faced off. Comcast made an initial bid in December but bowed out due to antitrust concerns. "If that goes through it is highly possible there will more than one bid for Fox". Some reports said Murdoch had previously rejected an offer from Comcast. He also accepted the rationale that Comcast or Disney had to grow bigger to compete globally and with streamers.

The US government is now suing to block a merger between Time Warner, and the telecoms giant AT&T.