Weeks after first announcing it was “in the advanced stages of preparing an offer for the business that Fox has agreed to sell to Disney,” Comcast has officially launched its bid, at a 19% premium over the Disney offer.
The Comcast bid is for 100% of the outstanding shares of 21st Century Fox for US$35.00 per share in cash, or a total equity value of $65 billion. The Disney offer, made last December, currently stands at $52.4 billion.
The move was widely expected following a decision by federal judge Richard Leon earlier this week that gave the go-ahead for the acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T. That decision came after the Department of Justice sued to prevent the transaction on the grounds that the merger would lessen competition.
In a letter to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts (pictured) said the Comcast board has “long admired what the Murdoch family has built at Twenty-First Century Fox. After our meetings last year, we came away convinced that the 21CF businesses to be sold are highly complementary to ours, and that our company would be the right strategic home for them.
While acknowledging that “we were disappointed when 21CF decided to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price,” Roberts later added, “We are also highly confident that our proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that our transaction is as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction.”
The Comcast bid may potentially spark a major bidding war for the 21st Century Fox assets in play, which include Fox’s film and television studios; a stable of cable networks including FX, National Geographic and Star India among others; and Fox’s stakes in European satcaster Sky and Hulu as well as a 50% stake in Endemol Shine Group, and a bevy of regional sports networks.
Disney and Fox shareholders are currently slated to meet on July 10 to discuss the Disney offer.
Comcast is also concurrently pursuing a $31 billion bid for Sky, pitting it against 21st Century Fox, which is vying to purchase the 61% of Sky that it doesn’t already own.