The battle for 21st Century Fox is on. Although many were already celebrating The X-Men, Fantastic Four, and other properties making their home under Disney’s roof, it appears as though there’s another challenger for Fox’s TV and studio assets. Following the outcome of the AT&T/Time Warner antitrust case, Comcast launched their own all-cash bid for Fox, which they claim is valued at about $65 billion, a little more than Disney’s $52.4 billion offer. Here we go.
“We have long admired what the Murdoch family has built at Twenty-First Century Fox,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a letter to Fox’s controlling Murdoch family, telling 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James that Comcast “would be the right strategic home for the parts of the company that are for sale.” The company faces quite an opponent in Disney, who still have a chance to match or top Comcast’s offer. However, if Fox does back out of their proposed deal with Disney in favour of Comcast, they would owe ol’ Mickey a breakup fee of $1.52 billion. Comcast was looking to make a bid for Fox last year, but that fell apart amid concerns that the government would block the deal, but the recent AT&T/Time Warner decision has clearly renewed their confidence.
Earlier this year, it seemed as though the Disney/Fox merger was progressing just fine, with 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice telling Fox employees that the deal would most likely be completed by the end of summer 2019 at the latest. Once the transition is completed, the remaining Fox assets will be formed into a new company, jokingly called “Diet Fox” by Rice, and management changes will be announced over the next year. For those employees potentially moving to Disney, Rice expected the switch to be seamless, but those that stay will be in for an “exciting time” as the slimmed-down new Fox will be a “focused, nimble and well capitalized company set up for the future.” Should Comcast come out ahead in the Fox deal, Disney would stand to lose quite a bit, not only the Marvel franchises which Fox holds and remaining STAR WARS rights, but also a majority stake in Hulu. Time to sit back and watch the titans battle it out.