Comcast introduced a proposal price $65 billion for the majority of 21st Century Fox’s companies on Wednesday, organising a showdown with the Walt Disney Company for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
The all-cash bid by Comcast, the biggest cable firm in the United States, got here a day after a federal choose approved a merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Comcast executives had awaited the choice in that case earlier than mounting their bid for 21st Century Fox.
In December, Disney struck a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal for Fox’s belongings. Comcast, whose roughly $60 billion supply for the Fox belongings was rebuffed final 12 months, is now together with contractual assurances reminiscent of a reverse breakup charge — price about $2.5 billion — in the occasion a transaction is blocked by the federal government.
Comcast’s new supply is about 19 p.c increased than Disney’s proposal, in response to its assertion.
Mr. Murdoch and his firm’s board had rejected Comcast’s earlier supply partly on issues the federal government would block the deal. But the AT&T-Time Warner choice additionally allayed many issues Comcast takeover of 21st Century Fox’s companies can be denied by regulators.
Brian L. Roberts, the top of Comcast, wanted to maneuver rapidly. Fox shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Disney deal on July 10, however that date will likely be moved again if Mr. Murdoch and the Fox board determine to help Comcast’s supply. Disney would then have 5 days to reply with a counter bid.
The companies that Mr. Murdoch has agreed to promote embody the 20th Century Fox movie and TV studios, nearly two dozen regional sports activities networks just like the Yankees’ YES channel, a lineup of cable networks that features FX and a 30 p.c possession stake in the streaming service Hulu.
But the important thing points of interest for Comcast are Fox’s broad worldwide belongings, which embody its 39 p.c stake in the European pay TV operator Sky and its management of Star, certainly one of India’s largest media corporations, which reaches 700 million individuals each month, in response to the corporate.
Mr. Murdoch’s abroad enterprise accounts for 27 p.c of annual gross sales, about $7.eight billion. Comcast, whose cable enterprise is strictly a home operation, attracts in solely 9 p.c of its income from overseas agreements, largely by way of its NBCUniversal division.
Comcast has already made a proposal to purchase the opposite 61 p.c of Sky in a separate deal. The Fox News cable community, the Fox broadcast stations, the Fox Business Network and the sports activities community FS1 wouldn’t be a part of a transaction.
“This has all the makings of a very aggressive bidding war,” mentioned Craig Moffett, co-founder of analysis agency MoffettNathanson and a longtime media analyst.
There is unhealthy blood between Disney and Comcast. The rancor stretches again to a minimum of 2004, when Comcast tried to swallow Disney. The Disney board fought off that attempt, however the chief government Robert A. Iger and his high lieutenants have by no means forgotten it. Anyone driving the Jurassic Park rides at NBCUniversal’s theme parks can see what Comcast thinks of Mickey Mouse; certainly one of Disney’s well-known mouse ear hats floats in the water subsequent to a raft that has been destroyed by a marauding dinosaur.
That failed deal looms over the present battle for Fox.
“Comcast seems hellbent on winning this time, and I think the narrative in Philadelphia is that Brian should have listened to his gut in 2004 and bought Disney,” Mr. Moffett mentioned, referring to Comcast’s headquarters. “He seems very personally committed to this.”