Comcast is officially preparing to once again throw its hat into the ring to acquire assets of 21st Century Fox, announcing that it is in the “advanced stages of preparing an offer for the businesses that Fox has agreed to sell to Disney.”
These businesses do not include the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company and certain other assets. Rather, the offer is intended for Fox’s film and television studios, as well as a stable of cable networks including FX, National Geographic and Star India among others.
Fox’s stakes in European satcaster Sky and Hulu are also in Comcast’s sights, as well as a 50% stake in Endemol Shine Group, and a bevy of regional sports networks.
“Any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney,” said Comcast in its statement. “The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast, including with respect to both the spin-off of ‘New Fox’ and the regulatory risk provisions and the related termination fee, would be at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer.”
The Disney offer stands at approximately US$52.4 billion. Comcast said that Wednesday morning’s announcement was made “in view of the recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission” by Disney and Fox in advance of their upcoming shareholder meetings slated for the summer.
“While no final decision has been made, at this point the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced,” Comcast said via its statement.
The move from Comcast, which was expected in financial quarters, comes following the Murdoch family’s unveiling of “New Fox.” The new company, to be led by patriarch Rupert Murdoch as co-chairman and son Lachlan Murdoch as chairman and CEO, will retain the U.S. broadcast assets in order to become what Rupert Murdoch called “the only media company solely focused on the domestic market; focused on what Americans love best – sports, news and entertainment, built and delivered for a U.S. audience.”
It also follows the cable giant’s announcement in April that it had launched a £22 billion (approximately US$31 billion) takeover bid for the 61% of Sky that Fox didn’t already own.
Comcast had originally considered a bid for Fox’s studio divisions in prior to the Disney offer, made last December. That bid, according to Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts (pictured), was designed to make Sky “our platform for growth across Europe.”