Comcast's official counterproposal now pressures Disney to come up with a higher offer for Fox - lest it have compelling entertainment assets slip through its hands at a time when technology giants are storming Hollywood, forcing traditional media companies to bulk up.
United States cable giant Comcast has launched a $65bn cash bid for 21st Century Fox's entertainment businesses, setting up a battle with Disney which has offered $52bn in stock.
"We continue to believe that Disney has the superior balance sheet, cost of debt, equity and rationale to emerge victorious over Comcast in a bidding war". For Disney, a successful Comcast bid could make Disney's planned streaming service less attractive, without the Fox video.
The Disney deal was proposed several months ago, but the Disney merger meeting was the time for it to be submitted for approval to stockholders. Now that yesterday's AT&T ruling will ease the approval pathway for a Comcast deal, Fox may need to take another look at any Comcast offer.
Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts cited the AT&T/Time Warner court decision in his offer letter to 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, co-Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch and CEO James Murdoch.
The $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner was approved Tuesday. 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. 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". Comcast bid 16 per cent more than Disney for Fox's media properties, but that offer was deemed too risky.
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What's next? Well, Disney is expected to match Comcast's bid.
Even worse for the company, Disney's bid is said to be all-stock, which means that if the shares fall as a result of the court's decision, Disney's bid may be even less attractive.
Comcast also is making an ambitious push in Europe that centers on United Kingdom pay TV provider Sky.
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To see how this could happen, consider that, after the merger, AT&T would have the rights to all of HBO's output, CNN, live National Basketball Association and NCAA broadcasts, and many more desirable Time Warner properties. T-Mobile's merger with Sprint is next on the block, and regulators will soon have to decide whether or not they'll challenge that deal. After Fox made a takeover offer for the 61 per cent stake in Sky that it doesn't already own, Comcast launched a 22 billion pound (38.8 billion) counterbid for the business. Comcast's shares fell 4%, as the price for winning the assets likely just increased. It also agreed to reimburse Fox for the $1.5 billion-plus break-up fee it agreed to pay to Disney if their deal doesn't go through.
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