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The bidding wars: Comcast challenges Disney in a fight for FOX

25 May 2018

Comcast Corp. has confirmed that is preparing to make a "superior" bid for significant portions of 21st Century Fox, which may derail Walt Disney Co.'s attempts to purchase those same assets.

The Philadelphia company could bid $60 billion for the Fox movie studio, Fox regional sports networks, global businesses, and other Fox assets, and according to published reports has been arranging financing for the all-cash deal.

While the US cable operator said it was still considering its position, it said it was in advanced stages of readying an offer that would be "superior" and "at a premium" to Disney's all stock offer.

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

At stake are such assets as FX Networks, National Geographic, a 30-percent stake in Hulu, and the 20th Century Fox film and television production studios, which include the movie rights for the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool.

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Disney has agreed to pay $52.4bn for Fox, but Comcast said it was in the "advanced stages" of preparing a better bid.

The statement continued, "The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast, including with respect to both the spin-off of "New Fox" and the regulatory risk provisions and the related termination fee, would be at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer". The stock declined 2.1% to $31.82 in early trading on Tuesday.

Disney's historic deal to acquire elements of Fox seemed set in stone, but earlier this year reports surfaced that Comcast planned to derail that deal with a massive offer of its own.

"It remains to be seen where the shareholders' direction lies once the formal bid is revealed".

The group announced last week that his son Lachlan Murdoch would assume the role of chairman and chief executive at the "new" Fox, which would be tightly focused around the Fox News Channel and sports cable channels.

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Larry Downes, project director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, said Comcast's interest highlights the fact that content is becoming more important as ways to deliver content proliferate. Separately, Comcast received preliminary consideration from a United Kingdom government official to pursue an effort to buy Sky for $31 billion.

We have recently reported on the rumors of Comcast coming back in, and the fact that Disney could be prepared to let go of Sky TV in order to make sure they get their hands on those IP's. With the acquisition of Fox's broadcast networks, Disney would own numerous local Fox networks that air local baseball and basketball games.

The only reason Comcast is signaling an offer but not actually making one is that it is waiting on the all-determining decision expected June 12 in the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust case.

Updated May 23, 2018, with more details about another Comcast offer.

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

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The bidding wars: Comcast challenges Disney in a fight for FOX