Comcast Confirms Bid For Fox Businesses


In December, Comcast's mostly stock bid of $60 billion for a large portion of 21st Century Fox assets was rejected by Fox management, headed by Rupert Murdoch, in favor of a $52 billion all-stock offer from The Walt Disney Company.

"Any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney", Comcast writes.

Disney, the $153 billion film, television and theme parks conglomerate, is trying to buy the Twentieth Century Fox film studio, Fox Sports Regional Networks and other assets from 21st Century Fox, the $72 billion media company run by the Murdoch family.

The Fox and Sky deals would transform Comcast into a global entertainment giant that could compete with Netflix and break out of the US market with its melting cable-subscriber base. 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's Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch said earlier this month that the company was committed to its agreement with Disney but added that Fox's board was aware of its fiduciary duties on behalf of all shareholders.

Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, said it had not made a final decision on whether to make a formal offer but that the work on financing a bid and making regulatory findings were "well advanced".

Comcast further claims their offer would be "at least as favorable" to Fox's shareholders as Disney's offer.

Comcast shares were down 2 percent at $31.83 while Disney was down 0.7 percent at $103.26 in premarket trading.

Comcast put in a $60bn bid for Fox previous year, a 16% premium to Disney's offer, but Rupert Murdoch rejected it, citing regulatory concerns and share structure.

Like Disney and Fox, Comcast is part owner of the streaming-TV service Hulu. 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.

Comcast's announcement escalated a bidding war that was already underway in Europe for Fox's satellite business.

"Comcast does seem intent on winning this one".

The deal would also make Disney one of the biggest players in sports television. Separately, Comcast received preliminary consideration from a United Kingdom government official to pursue an effort to buy Sky for $31 billion. While the company has sound fundamentals, many financial analysts have questioned its strategy of going all-in for Fox given the amount of debt it would have to take on. He also accepted the rationale that Comcast or Disney had to grow bigger to compete globally and with streamers.

"It all depends on the AT&T and Time Warner deal", said Brian Wieser, analyst at Pivotal Research.