It had been the hot topic of the entertainment mass media industry. The Walt Disney Company late last year announced its intentions to acquire some choice media assets from 21st Century Fox. That deal includes TV channels, stakes in British and Indian media networks, and the 20th Century Fox film studio. Though the process was expected to take about a year and a half to finalize, it felt like a done deal. Everything changed when Comcast threw its hat into the ring with a higher, all-cash asking price. The House of Mouse however has counterattacked by upping its own offer.
As The Hollywood Reporter tells us, Disney has answered the challenge of Comcast by increasing its bid for the bundle of media assets from Fox on Wednesday, June 20. After the rival media giant placed $65 billion, all in cash, for the prospective acquisitions, Disney took its initial offer of $54.2 billion in stock, made in December last year, and raised it to $71.3 billion in combined cash and stock. This development came days following the confirmation of a merger between AT&T and WarnerMedia on June 14, following a win by AT&T in having a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit junked.
In an analyst call that same day, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger made assurances that their company had more of an edge over Comcast in terms of getting the nod from regulators for acquiring the Fox assets. “We have a much better opportunity in terms of approval and the timing of that approval than Comcast does in this case,” he said. “We are confident that we have a clear and timely path to approval.” Furthermore, Iger points out, the regulators will be more concerned with Comcast winning its bid, as their top position in the US broadband market would give them an even more unfair advantage than Disney winning.
More importantly, Disney and Fox have already been at the negotiating table for half a year now concerning the acquisition, before Comcast decided to complicate things. Iger elaborated that their new bid of $71.3 billion for the Fox media assets is comprised of $38 per share in either cash or Disney stock. And the House of Mouse will also shoulder $13.8 billion worth of net debt from Fox, meaning it would actually cost $85.1 billion at the end of negotiation.
In detail, aside from 20th Century Fox, Disney stands to gain Fox TV, FX, NatGeo, the Star India network, the 30% Fox stake in Hulu, a 39% stake on UK-based Sky plc, and Endemol Shine.
Image courtesy of Comic Book Resources