Comcast making move to prevent Disney deal for 21st Century Fox assets

Comcast making move to prevent Disney deal for 21st Century Fox assets

The bidding war is over Fox assets - not including Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network - that Disney in December said it would purchase for United States dollars 52.4 billion.

The news lifted Fox shares 1.6 percent to close at $38.77. Disney has included a breakup penalty worked into the offer, should this bid not pass the regulators, and Comcast has allegedly worked this into their terms as well. Comcast made a £22 billion ($30 billion) offer for the 61% stake it doesn't already own in the European pay-TV group Sky.

It's also the latest in a dizzying period of merger moves in tech and media: In addition to Disney's deal for Fox, Comcast is trying to undermine Fox (yes, the same Fox) to win 61 percent of United Kingdom television company Sky TV, and AT&T is trying to buy TV programmer Time Warner despite government opposition.

Comcast shared the news on Wednesday, a move that will be one of the largest ever merger battles in media. Comcast has said it can deal with the debt and would bring it down quickly.

Comcast investors gave a tepid reaction to the idea.

That's key for Comcast, which now doesn't have an worldwide presence.

But if Comcast insists on deals, Begley added, "It's now or never".

Larry Downes, project director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, said Comcast's interest highlights the fact that content is becoming more important as ways to deliver content proliferate.

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Comcast said that "no final decision has been made" as to whether to proceed with the takeover bid, but that "the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced".

Tuna Amobi, analyst with research firm CFRA, said that the Fox deal presents a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for Comcast because "almost no one expected Rupert Murdoch and his family to sell out at this time". The Murdochs will control about 5% of Disney, if that deal goes through.

The $90 billion that Comcast would borrow to do the deals concerns Amobi.

Comcast Corp. has announced possible plans to acquire 21st Century Fox.

Comcast is threatening to roil a plan by Disney to bolster its dominance in entertainment. Comcast operates the NBC broadcast network while Disney owns ABC, and both have multiple cable channels. In play are the Fox film and TV studios and a lucrative set of cable networks, including FX, National Geographic and regional sports operations. Disney also owns the rights to the Star Wars movie franchise after buying Lucasfilm in October 2012.

It was previously reported that Comcast is planning to submit its offer only if AT&T's planned acquisition of Time Warner emerges victorious next month from the Justice Department's legal challenge.

Comcast, which owns the NBCUniversal media-entertainment group and is the largest United States cable operator, said it was prepared to pay more than Disney for the operations, which don't include Murdoch's Fox News Channel, Fox Broadcasting and major sports channels. In addition, Disney would have big market positions in children's shows and animated movies.

Much of what happens next will be determined in Washington, not by regulators, but by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

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