Breaking: Comcast makes $65 billion dollar offer to buy Fox
According to AdWeek, Comcast has just made a $65 billion all-cash offer for 21st Century Fox in a Hail Mary play to aggressively wrest the company and its sizable assets from Disney. This move comes in the wake of Tuesday’s verdict that approved the merger of AT&T’s and Time Warner for $85 billion, despite efforts by the Justice Department to block it. The offer is expected to spark a bidding war between the two powerhouses, Disney and Comcast.
“After our meetings last year, we came away convinced that the 21CF businesses to be sold are highly complementary to ours, and that our company would be the right strategic home for them,” wrote Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a letter to the Fox board of directors. “In light of yesterday’s decision in the AT&T/Time Warner case, the limited time prior to your shareholders’ meeting, and our strong continued interest, we are pleased to present a new, all-cash proposal that fully addresses the Board’s stated concerns with our prior proposal.”
In mid-December, The Walt Disney Company announced it would purchase 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses, for $52.4 billion. Prior to the deal, Fox had entertained a much higher bid from Comcast in the low $60 billion range but ultimately terminated talks early on due to antitrust concerns. In February Comcast revived its interest in purchasing the 21st Century Fox assets, feeling confident that they could avoid entanglements that would incur government litigation as in the AT&T/Time Warner deal. Roberts has said that Comcast would match Disney’s $2.5 billion breakup fee should the deal fall apart due to regulatory issues.
Like Disney, Comcast already controls a major television network (NBC), a motion picture studio (Universal Pictures), several animation studios (Illumination Entertainment, Dreamworks Animation) and a theme park empire (Universal Studios). They also boast the second-largest pay-TV company after AT&T, largest cable TV company and largest home internet service provider in the United States. Their TV conflicts could potentially be settled by leaving regional Fox stations out of the deal.
However, part of the appeal of the Disney deal to the Murdoch family was its ability to make them influential Disney shareholders, with 21st Century Fox Chief Executive James Murdoch (son of Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch) potentially inheriting a high position at Disney if the deal is completed. On the film side, the Disney deal also boasts potential re-integration of Marvel and Star Wars assets, while a Universal deal boasts no such synergy. In 2017, Disney’s Buena Vista held a dominant 21.8% of the movie market share, while Universal Pictures held 13.8% with 20th Century Fox at 12%. Comcast, Disney and Fox all own interests in streaming giant Hulu, so either deal would boast a challenge to Netflix, although Disney plans to start its own separate streaming service in Fall 2019.
The Disney deal includes 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000, 20th Century Fox Television, FX Productions, Fox21, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky, and Endemol Shine Group.
The deal doesn’t include the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network. Those will be spun off into a newly-listed company.
When the deal was announced, it was also revealed that The Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger had agreed to continue in the position through the end of calendar year 2021 to oversee the transition.
Keep reading ComingSoon.net for future details on the fate of the 21st Century Fox assets!