Monday, 16 July, 2018

Comcast challenges Disney with $65B bid for Fox

Brian Roberts CREDIT Mark Lennihan AP REX Shutterstock
Kelvin Reese | 15 June, 2018, 01:25

Both Disney and Comcast (through its ownership of NBCUniversal) hold 30 per cent of the streaming service - 21st Century Fox owns another 30 per cent and Time-Warner owns the last 10 per cent. Comcast's bid is all-cash, compared with Disney's all-stock offer.

Comcast made a $65 billion offer for much of the Hollywood holdings of 21st Century Fox.

Comcast is "highly confident that our proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that our transaction is as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction", Roberts wrote. Disney announced its plan to purchase Fox, including including the 20th Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and global TV businesses, in mid-December.

Roberts said Murdoch had built "one of the world's great media and entertainment companies", and that its history was similar to that of Comcast's. The business decision was reportedly spurred by the recent favorable AT&T - Time Warner merger ruling. Disney previously agreed to pay $US52.4 billion ($69 billion) for the media company, and that offer was entirely in stock. The telecom would also have an interest in getting cable subscribers to switch from their providers to DirectTV (which AT&T already owns).

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.

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The new offer is likely to prompt a response from Disney, and force the Murdochs to review their position on the tie-up with Disney, which owns the ABC television networks ESPN and is a major Hollywood player. Comcast bid 16 per cent more than Disney for Fox's media properties, but that offer was deemed too risky.

Comcast said its proposal is "at least as favourable" to shareholders as Disney's plan.

Image: Disney also wants to buy Fox. In addition the cable giant says it will reimburse Fox the full $1.525bn break-up fee it would owe Disney if Team Rodent's offer is turned down. Comcast's new play extends the still-developing saga for the fate of 21st Century Fox, so stay tuned for more updates on how this all will eventually shake out. The two wireless carriers expect the merger to close by the first half of 2019, assuming they get regulatory approval.

Just because Comcast has made a higher offer doesn't mean that Fox will take it.

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