Comcast Outbids Disney, Offers $65 billion for 21st Century Fox
Fresh off the heels of the news of AT&T’s successful bid to take over Time Warner comes today’s news. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is offering $65 billion for 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA)and its multitude of assets. That puts Comcast’s offer about 20% above Disney’s ~$52 billion offer for Fox announced a few months ago.
This comes as little surprise since the precedent was boldly and loudly proclaimed by a Federal Judge yesterday when the AT&T purchase of Time Warner was given blanket approval.
Now both Comcast and Disney are feeling very confident about regulatory approval of a very similar purchase of 21st Century Fox. While Disney is more of a horizontal competitor to Fox in that it creates and sells content via in-house IP, Comcast is more akin to a vertical partner similar to the AT&T-TimeWarner dynamic.
Both AT&T and Comcast want to fight the growing amount of original programming coming out of the likes of Netflix and Amazon via these acquisitions with content such as Fox’s The Simpsons and the X-Men franchise, also owned by Fox.
Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s often polarizing and largest shareholder (17%), is widely expected to do what he can to block the move. Comcast’s offer is a cash offer and the Murdoch family would be liable for billions in capital gains tax should the sale occur as announced.
One potential roadblock is that Fox will owe Disney a $1.525 billion “breakup fee” should it walk away from the current offer from Disney. The new offeree is looking to smooth that over with its promise to pay that original fee, plus an addition $2.5 billion new break-up fee for its own offer.
The Comcast offer is for $35 per share of Fox, an almost 20% premium over Fox’s current price of $29.18/share.
The Fox board is expected to vote on the original Disney offer on July 10th but one can safely assume this will now be delayed in order to evaluate the new Comcast offer.