Comcast Considering Hostile Offer for 21st Century Fox Assets

Blanche Robertson
May 9, 2018

Rupert Murdoch who insiders have said is taking a sniff around the Seven Network in Australia after losing out on the Ten Network, is facing the real possibility that his 21st Century Fox network could pocket billions, after United States operator Comcast moved to nobble a recent Disney offer by putting in a bigger offer.

This comes after Walt Disney Co. agreed in December to pay $52.4 billion for units including the historic 20th Century Fox movie studio and Fox's television studio. Comcast would try to buy the same assets that Disney is attempting to acquire.

All in all, these deals have put Fox and Disney in precarious situations.

There seems to be no shortage of twists and turns in the ongoing battle for 21st Century Fox's assets. Comcast is a also a co-owner of Hulu. Regulators anxious that the nation's largest cable company would prevent the online streaming service from becoming a viable competitor to cable TV.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger, saying it would harm competition.

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Comcast, which already has a $30-billion bridge loan to finance its bid for a 61-per cent stake in European pay-TV group Sky Plc, is seeking $60 billion to outbid Disney, Reuters today reported, citing three people familiar with the development. However, if the government does not approve, then Comcast has no intention of placing a bid. In November, the Murdoch family, which controls Fox, turned down a bid from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company because they believed that a tie-up with the cable operator would more likely be blocked by regulators.

"At the margin, the news may be seen as negative for investor sentiment on Sky as it may limit Comcast's ability to counter-bid should Fox raise its offer for Sky", UBS said.

The Comcast CEO Brian Roberts would only go through with his effort to wrest 21st Century Fox away from Disney if a federal judge allows AT&T to merge with Time Warner.

A ruling in favor of AT&T would presumably improve Comcast's chances of buying another entertainment company. If it takes place, 21st Century Fox's owner Rupert Murdoch would still keep Fox News and Fox Business Network, which he reportedly plans to consolidate with his News Corp.

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