AT&T's legal win over the Justice Department and Comcast's subsequent bid for 21st Century Fox boosted the latter's shares to an all-time high, with the New York City-based entertainment giant ending Friday trading nearly five points up compared to Monday. With a price of $44.66 per share being reached in yesterday's after-hours trading, Fox's current market cap amounts to nearly $83 billion, the highest it has ever been since the firm listed its stock on Nasdaq in late 1994.
While Fox already agreed to combine with Disney as part of a $52.4 billion all-stock deal, Comcast outbid the Los Angeles-based juggernaut by nearly $13 billion and offered to take control of the firm with cash only, presenting the Murdoch family with an extremely tempting proposition and possibly starting a bidding war over one of the most prominent names in the global entertainment industry. Comcast is hoping AT&T's court win that allowed it to acquire Time Warner for $85.6 billion will set a precedent that should also lead to stateside regulators approving its own tie-up, though the consolidation would be much more horizontal in nature seeing how Fox directly competes with its cable network. Comcast would likely argue that the merger is necessary due to the growing threat of streaming services such as Netflix and the fact that cord-cutting has been gaining massive traction among American consumers in recent times.
Fox has yet to respond to Comcast's offer in any capacity, having so far only acknowledged it received the offer. Disney is expected to pull the next move and possibly sweeten its own bid, most likely with cash incentives. Fox would own Disney a $1.52 billion breakup fee if it walks away from their attempted merger, with Comcast already vowing to reimburse that sum in full. While Fox holds a 39-percent stake in Sky, Comcast is presently also trying to complete the acquisition of the remaining 61-percent of the pay-TV group's shares as part of a separate deal valued at the equivalent of some $30 billion, with its proposal already being approved by the European Commission's antitrust watchdog earlier this week.