COMCAST PUTS UP $65B OFFER FOR FOX ASSETS
AFTER AT&T-TIME WARNER GETS GREEN LIGHT . . .
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.
Will Homer Simpson be leaving Fox for a new home with Comcast?