Dis­ney in the spot­light as Com­cast makes big Fox bid

Irish Independent - - Business - Gerry Smith

DIS­NEY is un­der pres­sure to re­spond af­ter ri­val Com­cast made a $65bn (€55.8bn) bid for 21st Cen­tury Fox’s en­ter­tain­ment as­sets – the same hold­ings Dis­ney had agreed to buy for about $52.4bn (€45bn).

At stake is a trove of me­dia prop­er­ties, rang­ing from ‘The Simpsons’ to ‘X-Men’, which are key to Dis­ney fend­ing off the threat from Net­flix and other stream­ing up­starts. The ques­tion is whether Dis­ney can con­vince Fox in­vestors that it is still the most com­pelling part­ner.

“So far Com­cast has put a lot more mus­cle and ag­gres­sion into its moves,” said Claire En­ders, founder of me­dia re­search firm En­ders Anal­y­sis. “Clearly the re­solve on the Com­cast side is ab­so­lute.”

Com­cast, the largest US ca­ble-TV provider, is of­fer­ing $35 (€30) a share for the Fox as­sets, say­ing the bid rep­re­sents a 19pc pre­mium over the Dis­ney of­fer. And it is cash, rather than the stock that Dis­ney is propos­ing.

The move fol­lows AT&T’s vic­tory over the US Jus­tice Depart­ment in its anti-trust bat­tle to take over Time Warner. That out­come is ex­pected to spur a wave of me­dia con­sol­i­da­tion.

The Dis­ney-Com­cast con­test will de­ter­mine who con­trols much of Ru­pert Mur­doch’s em­pire, in­clud­ing Fox’s movie and TV stu­dios. With Wednesday’s bid, Com­cast boss Brian Roberts is seek­ing to dis­rupt Dis­ney CEO Bob Iger’s plan to use Fox prop­er­ties to bol­ster that com­pany’s al­ready vast en­ter­tain­ment of­fer­ings.

Un­der the terms of its merger agree­ment with Fox, Dis­ney has the right of re­fusal on any counter-of­fer. While it will have five days to make a fresh bid, the clock doesn’t start tick­ing un­til af­ter the Fox board has as­sessed the Com­cast of­fer and deemed it su­pe­rior to Dis­ney’s. (Bloomberg)

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