Turns Out Disney Might Not Buy Fox After All
At the end of last year, Walt Disney announced that it would be acquiring Fox - for a cool $52.4 billion (£39 billion), no less, making it a pretty big deal.
However, the plot has thickened significantly, because according to Reuters, US cable operator Comcast Corp is preparing to 'gate-crash' the deal and come bowling in with its own offer.
Three sources reportedly told Reuters that Comcast would be offering $60 billion for the media assets that 21st Century Fox had agreed to sell to Disney, with the deal announced on 14 December last year.
At the time, Walt Disney released a statement that said the companies had entered into a 'definitive agreement' for the acquisition, which would include the 20th Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses.
"Building on Disney's commitment to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment, the acquisition of these complementary assets would allow Disney to create more appealing content, build more direct relationships with consumers around the world and deliver a more compelling entertainment experience to consumers wherever and however they choose," the statement read.
As part of the historic deal, Disney would acquire 21st Century Fox's critically acclaimed film production businesses, including 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000 - the homes of Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hidden Figures, Gone Girl, The Shape of Water, The Martian and much more.
But now that Comcast is reportedly interested, this could change.
Last November, it actually offered to acquire most of Fox's assets in an all-stock deal valued at $34.41 per share, or $64 billion. Reuters reports that Disney and Fox cited 'regulatory hurdles' as reasons to reject the bid from Comcast, even though the companies did not reference Comcast explicitly.
Comcast - which owns NBC and Universal Pictures - apparently only plans to go ahead with the bid if a federal judge allows AT&T Inc's planned $85bn acquisition of Time Warner to proceed, with a decision for that expected to come in June.
Sources have said that Rupert Murdoch, who owns close to a 17 percent stake in Fox and therefore has a large potion of the voting power, prefers to be paid in stock rather than cash for the Fox assets - because doing so supposedly makes the transaction non-taxable for shareholders.
Comcast, Fox and Disney all declined to comment to Reuters.
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