Comcast made good on its threat today to usurp Disney's bid for select 21st Century Fox assets, offering the Fox board a $65 billion all-cash deal that would include a massive $4.025 billion breakup fee should things go south on the regulatory end.
Roberts said Comcast's board of directors had unanimously approved the offer, meaning the deal doesn't have to be run by shareholders, where dissonance toward the company's M&A activities is running high.
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.
"All hell's going to break loose on the Disney-Fox deal", investment banker Lloyd Grief predictedin a piece at Deadline.
The deal focuses on the famed Fox Hollywood film and television studios, along with its cable entertainment networks and worldwide TV businesses. The Wall Street Journal and others reported earlier that Comcast had lined up $60 billion in cash to challenge Disney for media mogul Rupert Murdoch's company.
AT&T's $85.4 billion acquisition of media giant Time Warner can proceed, a federal judge said Tuesday. This new offer puts that situation in flux and promises to put Comcast and Disney at odds as they try and maneuver against each other for Fox's assets. Disney's offer was $52 billion and all in stock. Disney also is interested in owning Sky.
Comcast was in talks to buy Fox late previous year.
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The Trump administration had opposed the merger, which promises to join one of the country's biggest telecom providers with a media powerhouse that owns the Warner Bros. movie studio and DC Comics as well as the cable-TV networks CNN, HBO, TBS and TNT.
The new offer is likely to prompt a response from Disney, and force the Murdochs to review their position on the tie-up with Disney, which owns the ABC television networks ESPN and is a major Hollywood player. Comcast shares fell after the decision as investors anxious it would overpay for the Fox assets to beat out Disney, which has offered $52.5 billion in stock.
Comcast said its proposal is "at least as favourable" to shareholders as Disney's plan.
Because Disney's acquisition of Fox was seen as a foregone conclusion until recently, it has played a role in the last couple of Disney earnings reports, wherein CEO Robert Iger talked up the benefits of the deal.
Update: Fox sent out a statement confirming that it has received the bid. Based on that, it would appear that the DoJ barely stood a chance in the trial, and it would have been better off settling, even if just to get a better outcome from the AT&T Time Warner merger.
More news as we hear it.