Comcast bids for Murdoch's Fox assets in Disney challenge

Randall Stephenson

Randall Stephenson

Earlier today Comcast made an incredibly formidable bid take the 20th Century Fox company and other assets away from a planned Disney deal to the tune of $65 million and in all cash. Its move will likely trigger a new offer from Disney and even a bidding war as two media giants battle for dominance both at home and overseas. Comcast, for example, would like to outbid the Walt Disney Co. for some of 21st Century Fox's assets, but has held off until the trial ended. Cable company Charter chtr has not been involved in any rumored deals lately, and Verizon vz has talked down interest in buying a major media company while selecting for its next CEO an executive with experience in the communications infrastructure business.

"We have long admired what the Murdoch family has built at 21st Century Fox", wrote Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, in a letter addressed to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch (via Deadline).

The reordering of the media landscape comes as cable, telecoms and media companies scramble to compete with tech companies including Amazon, Apple and Netflix, which are spending billions to develop their own empires. While the Department of Justice could still appeal, Comcast seems to believe the gateway is open and chose to go in with a heavy hand in regards to 21st Century Fox.

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Fox's shareholders plan to vote July 10 on the company's proposed merger with Disney. Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox rose more than 4 percent, while Disney's stock dropped slightly more than 1 percent. Disney and Comcast had already been at battle in the United Kingdom over Sky TV.

Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

The US Department of Justice-the nation's antitrust authority-sued to block the deal late a year ago, arguing that Time Warner's media brands like HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN would give AT&T outsized power, hurt competition, and lead to higher prices for consumers.

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"We are highly confident in our ability to finance the transaction, and our offer includes no financing-related conditions", Roberts said.

Critics pointed out that the deal wouldn't be the end of such massive mergers, and may in fact open the doors to similar acquisitions among other companies. The government anxious that AT&T, as DirecTV's owner, could charge Comcast and other rival distributors higher prices for Time Warner channels like CNN or HBO. Comcast also said it would reimburse the money Fox would owe Disney for terminating that deal.

Number three wireless carrier T-Mobile, meanwhile, is seeking a tie-up with number four Sprint.

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Regulators in this country also have cleared Comcast's $30.7bn offer for the 61% of Sky that Mr Murdoch does not own. The ruling blesses the $85 billion merger, one of the biggest media deals ever.

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