Comcast dropping out of Twenty-First Century Fox bidding war

Screen Shot 2018 07 19

The announcement Thursday leaves the path open for The Walt Disney Co.to buy the Twenty-First Century Fox assets with its $71 billion offer. Once Disney moved to buy Fox, Sky would be part of the deal. The two had competing visions of what they'd do with the company.

But Brian Roberts and Comcast have been competing against Fox for the remaining 61 percent of Sky, driving up the value of the deal so far to $32 billion.

It looks like Disney will get the X-Men, while Comcast shifts its focus to the UK. Comcast is still pursuing a purchase of the European satellite TV provider Sky, which Fox (and by proxy, Disney) is also looking to obtain.

This opens up so many possibilities for Disney, but most fans are very excited at the idea of Fox's Marvel characters crossing over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We'll have to wait and see. However, given this month saw the Justice Department fail to stop AT&T from consuming Time-Warner, we imagine that this argument might not be as persuasive, which is something Comcast betted on when the company offered $65 billion for Fox.

It means that Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has failed in its bid to take full control of Sky. On CNBC, Disney's Iger said he was "extremely pleased with today's news".

Disney subsequently sweetened its offer to $71.3bn and recently gained regulatory approval in the United States, with Fox shareholders due to vote on the deal on the 27 July.

Comcast dropped its bid for the Fox assets because it was concerned the price was becoming too high, even though its banks were ready to finance a new bid, according to the sources.

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Commenting on the expected tie-up between Disney and Fox, he congratulated Disney chief executive Bob Iger and his team and commended the "Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company".

Disney owns ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel Studios and "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm, plus an array of theme parks.

Iger and Disney have coveted Fox's path into global markets. It would not include Fox News, the Fox broadcast network, the local TV stations it owns, or its sports networks.

"Our view is that probably there is less chance of Fox/Disney coming back with an increased offer for Sky given that Comcast would have more available firepower", said Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker.

Indeed, Comcast stock was up 2.8 percent in pre-market trading to about $35 a share.

For Comcast, a Sky deal would make it the world's largest pay-TV operator - it is already the biggest in the USA - and at a stroke reduce its nearly total dependence on the United States for revenues.

For Fox shareholders, they may enjoy seeing Comcast try, but for Fox employees...

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