Comcast on Wednesday bid $65 billion in cash for 21st Century Fox's media assets - handily topping an earlier Disney $52 billion all-stock offer. Previous reports had claimed that Comcast was preparing billions to bid on the assets.
That decision had widely been interpreted as a signal that Comcast would make a play for Fox, which is now negotiating a merger with Walt Disney. The Fox television network and some cable channels including Fox News and Fox Business Network would stay with Murdoch's family under either deal, as with the newspaper and book businesses under a separate company, News Corp.
Comcast was "disappointed when [21st Century Fox] made a decision to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price", Roberts wrote.
The merger would create a media and telecommunications powerhouse, reshaping the landscape of those industries. While the Department of Justice could still appeal, Comcast seems to believe the gateway is open and chose to go in with a heavy hand in regards to 21st Century Fox.
Bottom line: if the Fox-Disney merger is approved, YES Network will be owned by the same company which owns the ESPN empire. Comcast is expected to bid for some of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. assets as soon as tomorrow.
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The firm is offering Fox $35 per share in cash, which it says provides more shareholder certainty and is 19% higher than Disney's proposal, which involves exchanging shares.
AT&T and Time Warner's lead lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, said outside court that the companies were gratified and relieved.
The Fox stable includes The Simpsons and the X-Men movie franchise. It allows AT&T, a phone and pay-TV giant, to absorb the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, "Game of Thrones", coveted sports programming and other "must-see" shows. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said the decision "raises serious concerns for consumers and the future of American media, and also sends a troubling signal to others that it's open season for vertical mergers".
Comcast also is making an ambitious push in Europe that centers on United Kingdom pay TV provider Sky.
Shares of both T-Mobile and Sprint rose; their proposed combination is pending.
And Comcast could come out a victor on the remaining 61 percent of Sky, which Fox has sought to buy amid a tangle with European regulators, and which Comcast openly covets as well. To further sweeten the deal, Comcast plans to reimburse the $US1.5 billion fee that it would have to pay Disney to break up that deal. The $85 billion deal can now proceed.