COM­CAST PUTS UP $65B OF­FER FOR FOX AS­SETS

AFTER AT&T-TIME WARNER GETS GREEN LIGHT . . .

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Ash­ley Wong

Com­cast just made its move. The cable and in­ter­net provider, which owns NBC Univer­sal, has of­fered $35 a share, or $65 bil­lion, in cash for 21st Cen­tury Fox film and TV stu­dio as­sets, top­ping the

$52 bil­lion Walt Dis­ney Co. made. Com­cast’s of­fer, rep­re­sent­ing a

19 per­cent pre­mium to Dis­ney’s all-stock bid, launches a bid­ding war for Fox stu­dios and net­works that both com­pa­nies see as in­te­gral to be­com­ing stronger com­peti­tors in a rapidly chang­ing me­dia land­scape.

“We are, in our minds, the right buyer with the su­pe­rior pro­posal, with as much or bet­ter cer­tainty and with com­mit­ments and safe­guards for the Fox board and for Fox share­hold­ers that are the same as those pro­posed by Dis­ney,” Com­cast CEO Brian L. Roberts said. Com­cast also of­fered to re­im­burse the $1.525 bil­lion breakup fee Fox would have to pay Dis­ney. Fox share­hold­ers have sched­uled a meet­ing for July 10 to vote on the Dis­ney merger, but Com­cast said it is seek­ing to reach an agree­ment be­fore that time. Philadel­phia-based Com­cast was in talks to make an of­fer for Fox last year, and last month said it planned to make an all-cash bid.

A court rul­ing in fa­vor of AT&T’s $85 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Time Warner on Tues­day in a Jus­tice De­part­ment an­titrust case was seen as a green light to more me­dia merg­ers, start­ing with Com­cast.

De­spite their grip on the

na­tion’s in­ter­net, phone and pay-TV needs, com­pa­nies such as Com­cast, Ver­i­zon and AT&T are ag­gres­sively seek­ing to add new busi­nesses. An en­ter­tain­ment li­brary, such as shows pro­duced by Fox’s stu­dios and its re­gional sports net­works, has emerged as a cov­eted al­ter­na­tive to the core sub­scrip­tion busi­ness now char­ac­ter­ized by tepid wire­less rev­enue growth and a shift by house­holds to cut the cable cord.

The 21st Cen­tury Fox as­sets up for grabs in­clude the his­toric 20th Cen­tury Fox movie stu­dio, which has pro­duced such clas­sics as “Mir­a­cle on 34th Street,” “Alien,” “Ti­tanic” and the orig­i­nal “Star Wars” film, plus Fox’s tele­vi­sion stu­dio (“The Simp­sons,” “Empire”) and FX and Na­tional Geo­graphic chan­nels. They also in­clude a one-third stake in Hulu, Fox’s 22 re­gional sports net­works and its stake in U.K.-based satel­lite TV and In­ter­net provider Sky.

Dis­ney, Com­cast and Fox each cur­rently hold 30 per­cent stakes in Hulu.

FOX

Will Homer Simp­son be leav­ing Fox for a new home with Com­cast?

21ST CEN­TURY FOX BY AP; DIS­NEY BY GETTY IM­AGES; COM­CAST BY AP IM­AGES FOR COM­CAST

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