Comcast on Wednesday launched a $65 billion all-cash offer for most 21st Century Fox assets, outbidding Disney's $52.4 billion proposal from earlier this year. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based conglomerate wants to merge its NBC network and Universal studio with FX and 20th Century Fox, having bid $35 per share, some 19-percent more than Disney did. Besides being more valuable, Comcast's approach also has the advantage of being an all-cash affair, whereas Disney only offered stock. Fox acknowledged the new bid in an official capacity but hasn't provided any additional comments on the matter. Disney may be looking to revise its own offer in the coming weeks, before Fox holds its July 10 investor meeting scheduled for the purpose of discussing the sale of the firm's assets.
Comcast's bid was launched almost immediately after AT&T received approval for its Time Warner acquisition, having managed to do so without agreeing to any major concessions. Regardless of whether Fox ends up attempting a tie-up with Comcast or Disney, both suitors are likely to argue their proposed consolidations would allow them to remain competitive in the media industry which has been converging in an increasingly aggressive manner in recent years, threatened by new media platforms such as Netflix. While Fox and Disney already have a preliminary agreement in place, the $1.52 billion breakup fee the former agreed to pay if it pulls out of the merger attempt for any reason would be reimbursed by Comcast, the telecom giant said.
Despite the fact that Comcast's offer is significantly more lucrative for Fox investors than what Disney bid, the company is likely to have a harder time completing the tie-up given how it already runs one of the largest cable networks in the country and would be taking out a direct competitor with the move, hence raising antitrust concerns. Three years back, Comcast already attempted acquiring Time Warner Cable but ended up being discouraged from doing so by the Justice Department. The fight for Fox is believed to be only the first of many effects of AT&T's legal win against the DOJ, with many analysts now predicting a major consolidation wave in the wireless and entertainment industries.