It was probably the most epic business battle of the year. Plenty of analysts and even ordinary observes sat up and took notice when the acquisition talks between The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox for a number of media assets from last year was complicated by the offer of a higher all-cash offer from Comcast. There was a slight period of back and forth between the two companies that climaxed with a new higher stock bid from Disney. After a period of quiet from all those involved, Comcast finally announced that they are pulling their bid on Fox.
CNN has it that this July 19, global telecommunication giant Comcast, which owns Universal Pictures and multiple broadcast and cable TV networks, is giving up their original bid of $65 billion in cash for the offered media assets of 21st Century Fox, which included the film studio 20th Century Fox and networks such as FX and National Geographic. Comcast initially offered that bid in June 12 this year, trumping Disney’s original offer to Fox of $54.2 billion in stock made in December 2017. Disney later countered the higher bid with $71.3 billion. With its Thursday announcement, Comcast has quit a bidding war between it and Disney for the Fox assets.
Or to be precise, the bidding war is good as done for the Fox assets themselves. But the portfolio also includes Fox stakes in British satellite TV group Sky plc, and that is now what Comcast is settling for, hoping to win that at least away from Disney’s own bid. They have now offered Sky $34 billion, which would give Comcast a foothold in direct-consumer media broadcasting over in Europe. Disney is not keen to let that go however; CEO Bob Iger described Sky’s European consumer base a “Crown Jewel”.
A statement released by Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts regarding its bid withdrawal for Fox congratulated Iger and Disney for securing their asset acquisition, and saluted Fox founder Rupert Murdoch and his family for “creating such a desirable and respected company”. Following the divesting of their select media assets to Disney, remaining broadcast, news and sports programming elements of Fox will be reorganized into “New Fox” with Lachlan Murdoch in charge. A group of Fox regional sports networks will be spun off by Disney as part of steps to gain approval from the Justice Department for the rest of their acquisitions.
Getting 20th Century Fox among those assets will suffice for Disney to regain the film rights of Marvel characters “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four”, potentially reuniting them to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Spider-Man” is technically shared between Marvel Studios and Sony.
Image courtesy of Comic Book Resources