Disney’s $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is a game-changing development for media, Hollywood and beyond. It forever realigns the ongoing streaming wars; reduces the number of major film studios from six to just five; and raises a host of questions for business and content production and distribution moving forward.
While government opposition is a possibility, the more immediate threat to the deal is likely fellow conglomerates who aren’t thrilled at the prospect of competing with the Mouse House’s never-ending ownership.
At least, that’s what CNBC is reporting as Comcast is said to be attempting to out-do Disney’s bid and gobble up Fox themselves.
“Comcast, CNBC’s owner, could also consider topping Disney’s bid for Fox, according to people familiar with the matter. No decision has been made by Comcast on a topping bid yet, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision is private. Disney is already preparing itself for a Comcast topping bid and considering responses in case, according to multiple people familiar with Disney’s thinking.
An unsolicited offer at a premium to Disney’s bid could persuade enough Fox shareholders to vote against Murdoch. His family controls 39 percent of Fox’s Class B voting shares but owns only 17 percent of all outstanding shares. Comcast executives suggested to Murdoch last year they would be willing to pay significantly more for Fox’s assets than what Disney was offering, said the people. Murdoch still went with the Disney offer, in large part due to regulatory concerns with Comcast.
Fox’s international businesses are of particular interest to Comcast, which sees more potential growth outside of the U.S. than it does domestically.”
Do we have a bidding war on our hands?
That may depend on the outcome of the AT&T-Time Warner merger, which has been met with Department of Justice-supported roadblocks.
Should that deal go through, CNBC suggests Comcast would move hard and fast on Fox to try and pull the rug out from Bob Iger and company.
Reprentativesfor Fox and Comcast did not respond to Observer’s request for comment.
Comcast reportedly tried to acquire Fox before Disney’s deal was announced last year, but publicly withdrew from the race in December. Now, it appears as if the company may want to walk that back. Reading between the lines, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts’ comments last week on his year-end 2017 earnings conference call seem to suggest that it’s still on their minds.
“So along the way there may be opportunities for us to create more value for our shareholders, like we did with NBCUniversal,” he said. “In this respect, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we study every situation that comes along. We believe our shareholders expect this from us. But the bar is set high, and we have been and will remain disciplined.”
Roberts added that the company is “always are looking for ways to create more value for shareholders” but also said that he doesn’t think there’s anything “we feel we have to acquire, and I think that’s an important point to emphasize.”