Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Comcast Lining Up Buyers for Fox Sports Nets

Comcast Corp is identifying potential buyers for Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s regional sports networks in an attempt to ease antitrust concerns about a new bid to acquire most of Fox’s assets, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Comcast hopes that preparing now for such divestitures will ease Fox’s concerns over potential antitrust risks and boost the chances of its bid disrupting Fox’s agreed $71 billion cash-and-stock deal to sell the assets to Walt Disney Co, the sources said on Monday.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice gave the go-ahead to Disney’s acquisition of the Fox assets, asking Disney, which owns sports network ESPN, to divest all of Fox’s 22 regional sports networks, known as RSNs, on antitrust grounds. These networks could be worth as much as $20 billion, according to the sources.

Comcast, which made a $65 billion all-cash offer for the Fox assets last month only for Disney to raise its bid, is talking to private equity firms, including Apollo Global Management LLC and Blackstone Group LP, to gauge interest about acquiring the RSNs, the sources said. It is possible that a telecommunications or media company might also express interest in purchasing the RSNs, the sources added.

Comcast believes finding such partners will not only allow it to argue that it can win antitrust approval for the Fox assets as easily as Disney, but will also boost its finances as its prepares to make a second all-cash offer later this month, the sources said.

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