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Money Comcast offers $65 billion to lure Fox from Disney bid

07:06  14 june  2018
07:06  14 june  2018 Source:

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Back in 2004, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts bid billion to acquire The Walt Disney Co. with a Comcast and Fox haven't commented on such a potential bid , but one insider said Comcast At the time, the Murdochs preferred Disney in part because of the regulatory risks of the Comcast offer

Yet the contest between Fox and Comcast has been complicated by a .4 billion offer from Disney (DIS) last year to swallow most of Fox , including its existing stake in Sky. Related: Comcast challenges Rupert Murdoch with rival bid for Sky.

a close up of a flag: A company flag flutters over Fox Studios in Los Angeles© REUTERS/Mike Blake A company flag flutters over Fox Studios in Los Angeles

Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) has offered $65 billion ($AU85.7 billion) to lure Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) away from a merger with Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), saying its all-cash bid was about 19 percent higher and launching the first salvo in what could be a bidding war between two of the largest U.S. media companies.

Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts said he was highly confident regulators would allow a Comcast-Fox deal after AT&T Inc's (T.N) court victory yesterday, which allowed it to buy Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) for $85 billion ($AU112 billion) .

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So it is likely that Disney would back Fox in bidding higher. Comcast WINS majority stake in sky. Fox could choose not to challenge Comcast , which has said its offer is contingent on acquiring more than 50 percent of Sky. Comcast had bid billion before losing out to Disney , and

There are reports Comcast is considering topping Disney 's bid to purchase the bulk of 21st Century Fox . In December last year, Disney struck an unprecedented deal with 21st Century Fox that would see them purchase .4 billion worth of assets from the company.

Some analysts see some difficulties for Comcast-Fox, which would add Fox's movie and television studios to Comcast's NBC Universal, but Roberts said in a letter to Fox that he would offer the same conditions as Disney and promised to fight for the deal in court if necessary.

A woman walks past the NBC and Comcast logos on 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan in New York© REUTERS/Lucas Jackson A woman walks past the NBC and Comcast logos on 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan in New York Comcast is expected to lead a wave of traditional media companies trying to combine distribution and production to compete with Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google. The younger firms produce content, sell it online directly to consumers and often offer lucrative targeted advertising.

Shares of Comcast, Fox and Disney were barely changed in after-hours trade.

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Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts will only proceed with a bid if a federal judge next month allows AT&T Inc’s (T.N) planned - billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) to proceed, sources have said. Disney in December offered stock then worth .4 billion to buy Fox ’s film

Shares of Comcast , Fox and Disney fell. Comcast ’s appearance in the already complex Sky drama could prompt Fox to make a higher offer or Disney to make its own direct bid for Sky. Comcast bid billion last year to clinch a deal with Fox , before losing out to Disney .

Comcast in a statement outlined an offer that was similar to Disney's, including a commitment to the same divestitures. It said that it would agree to litigate any action taken by the Justice Department to block the deal.

Comcast offered $35 ($AU46.17) per Fox share for the media assets, compared with Disney's stock offer, worth $29.18 ($AU38.49) per share at the close of trade on Wednesday.

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Comcast bid billion for European pay TV service Sky, besting Rupert Murdoch’s bid . Comcast had been interested in Fox ’s international business for a while, and, according to sources, it offered a richer deal than Disney .

Seven years after swallowing up NBCUniversal, Comcast announced it's sent a letter to 21 Century Fox 's Board of Directors informing them of a $ 65 billion cash offer for everything that it had agreed in December to sell to Disney for billion in stock.

Comcast also offered a $2.5 billion ($AU3.3 billion) reverse termination fee if the deal did not go through, the same as Disney. It also offered to pay Fox's $1.525 billion  ($AU2 billion) breakup fee owed Disney, if Fox went with Comcast.

a sign on the side of a building: An entrance to Fox Studios is shown in Los Angeles, California© REUTERS/Mike Blake An entrance to Fox Studios is shown in Los Angeles, California

Comcast said it intended to pursue its $30 billion ($AU39.6 billion) acquisition of Sky Plc (SKYB.L) in parallel with its Fox bid. Comcast bid for Sky in April, after Fox's bid for the remainder of European pay-TV group it did not already own was delayed by regulators.

Justice Department lawyers who tried to stop AT&T's $85 billion ($AU112 billion) deal expect consumers will lose out as bigger companies raise prices, and some lawyers saw that as a concern in a Comcast-Fox deal which would put two movie studios and two major television brands under one roof.

"One cannot ignore the fact that there's less independent content to go around," after the AT&T deal, said Henry Su, an antitrust expert with Constantine Cannon LLP.

Still, the AT&T court fight gave Comcast valuable information about how to structure a Fox deal, said David Scharf, a litigation expert with Morrison Cohen.

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After weeks of signaling it would do so, Comcast is making a play at 21st Century Fox ’s TV and film assets. Hoping to derail Disney ’s pending, stock-based .4 billion deal with Fox , Comcast is stepping in with a higher, all-cash offer of $ 65 billion .

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"Any deal that's coming down the pike that's not baked yet knows the government's playbook. They know what the government is concerned about," he said. "They can learn how to structure a deal to make it more palatable."

Disney itself has "surgically" structured a transaction that "might be doable," avoiding Fox Broadcasting and big Fox sports channels, U.S. antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said last week.

"I don't think either will have a significant advantage over the other," given that both Disney and Comcast seem motivated to divest what they need to win a deal with Fox, said Ketan Jhaveri, a former Justice Department attorney who served on the telecommunications task force.

Comcast may have a tough time winning over Fox's largest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch's family. They own a 17-per cent stake and would face a multi-billion dollar capital gains tax bill if he accepted an all-cash offer from Comcast, tax experts have told Reuters.

Craig Moffett, an analyst with MoffettNathanson, said in a research note that Disney could prevail for other reasons.

"Disney has the superior balance sheet, cost of debt, equity and rationale to emerge victorious over Comcast in a bidding war,” Moffett said.

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