Comcast makes $65 billion offer for Fox, setting up brawl

Posted June 15, 2018

Like the AT&T deal, a Comcast purchase of the Fox assets would be a vertical acquisition - that is, the companies operate in complimentary, not the same, businesses. The offer is expected to spark a bidding war between the two powerhouses, Disney and Comcast.

Realizing that its own major acquisition would have a chance of getting past regulators, the sources alleged, Comcast scrambled to put together its all-cash bid with an eye on knocking Disney down a peg.

Both companies operate television and film studios, have a stake in streaming service Hulu and own regional sports networks.

When the deal was announced, it was also revealed that The Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger had agreed to continue in the position through the end of calendar year 2021 to oversee the transition.

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Federal district court Judge Richard Leon issued a ruling that approved the $85.4 billion deal, without any conditions, in a locked courtroom with windows papered over, according to multiple media outlets stationed outside the courthouse. After Comcast swooped in with a new cash deal far more valuable than Disney's offer, it seemed like hopes for the X-Men and the Fantastic Four joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe were no longer feasible. The $35 per share offer represents a 19% premium on Disney's $52.4 billion all-stock offer for the same assets. AT&T is the US's second largest mobile phone operator and also owns the satellite TV broadcaster DirecTV.

Comcast was in talks to buy Fox late previous year.

Why this matters: Although the ruling is a huge setback for the DoJ, its almost two-year legal battle to try and block the Time Warner deal is a sign it's determined to challenge massive mergers.

Comcast said its proposal is "at least as favourable" to shareholders as Disney's plan. Owning Fox's stake in worldwide broadcaster Sky was also seen as a majorly attractive element of the Fox purchase.

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The AT&T and Time Warner logos are seen on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. June 13, 2018.

Shares of Fox rose more than 7%, while Comcast sank about 3%. In addition the cable giant says it will reimburse Fox the full $1.525bn break-up fee it would owe Disney if Team Rodent's offer is turned down.

Comcast re-entered the picture last month when it said publicly that it was preparing a bid for Fox.

Roberts wrote in his letter that Comcast is "highly confident" its offer will "obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner".

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