Thursday, June 14, 2018

Comcast + Disney = Murdoch Wins

Comcast Corp. made an unsolicited offer to buy most of 21st Century Fox Inc. for roughly $65 billion, kicking off a bidding war with Walt Disney Co. as the two media titans jockey for position in a business undergoing tumultuous change.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Comcast on Wednesday bid $35 a share in cash for the assets, which range from a storied Hollywood studio and international pay-TV distribution to cable networks and a stake in streaming company Hulu. That is a premium of nearly 20% to Disney’s all-stock offer for the same set of assets.

Neither bid includes Fox News, Fox Sports 1 or the Fox broadcast network and its TV stations, which will be spun off into a new company.

Fox confirmed it received Comcast’s offer and said it would “carefully review and consider” the proposal. Disney had no immediate comment on the offer.

Disney is lining up financing in the event it chooses to counter Comcast’s offer with new terms that include cash, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Tuesday's AT&T ruling emboldened Comcast to relaunch its bid for Fox with an offer that isn’t much higher than what it had earlier proposed. Comcast had offered an all-stock deal valued at $34.41 a share as of November, according to a Fox regulatory filing in April and a person familiar with the matter at the time.

Disney’s deal, reached in December, valued the Fox assets at $29.54 a share based on the last trading day before it was announced. The bid is now worth $29.18 as of Wednesday’s close.

It is now up to Fox to determine whether it wants to present the proposed Comcast deal to its shareholders. If it does, Disney has the right to counter with a new offer.

Fox has set a July 10 meeting for shareholders to vote on the sale to Disney, but that meeting could be postponed.

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