Disney raises bid for Fox assets to $71.3bn, topping Comcast

Charlene Craig
June 21, 2018

A week after Comcast launched an unsolicited $65 billion all-cash bid for Fox's entertainment assets, Disney returned with an amended agreement with Rupert Murdoch's media giant for $71.3 billion split evenly between cash and stock.

"We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders", Murdoch said.

Speaking to analysts on a Wednesday morning conference call, Iger was confident that Disney would prevail over Comcast in the fight to snap up the Fox properties.

Fox shares jumped 8 percent to $48.23, while Comcast rose 2.1 percent to $33.52. But it comes with one key change created to stave off Comcast's all-cash offer: a provision that allows Fox shareholders to decide whether to accept their payment in cash or stock.

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The improved offer came as 21st Century Fox board was set to decide whether to back Comcast's bid for assets that include Fox's film and television studios and global businesses.

It remained unclear whether Comcast would increase its bid, which was announced as an all-cash deal in a bidding war that will leave a top player in Hollywood and the global television market. But a federal judge's approval of AT&T's bid for Time Warner signals that the government might have difficulties mounting antitrust challenges. Disney's new offer of $38 per share, or $71.3 billion, is half cash and half stock.

The move comes a week after Comcast, the US cable giant, offered $65bn in cash for the assets, which include 20th Century Fox - the Hollywood film studio behind hits such as Avatar, X-Men and Ice Age - US cable TV networks including FX and National Geographic and global pay television assets including Star TV in India. The deal will also give Disney 60% ownership of Hulu. Those will be spun off into a new company.

'Above $80 billion would be a tough pill to swallow for Disney shareholders given the steep price, ' he said.

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Both Disney and Comcast could use it to expand globally.

For all the certainty Iger projects, many observers believe the Disney-Fox-Comcast intrigue is in early innings.

Disney, meanwhile, could also benefit from Fox's wide range of television and film assets, which could feed into its streaming services, including a planned rival to Netflix sometimes referred to as Disneyflix.

This makes life hard for Comcast, which is already borrowing extravagantly and would become one of the most indebted companies in the world if it bought Fox.

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