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Comcast still eyeing Fox assets

Disney CEO Bob Iger (left) and Rupert Murdoch at the announcement of their proposed deal

Comcast has re-emerged as a potential suitor to take over Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox assets, putting a provisional agreement with Disney under threat.

According to reports from Comcast-owned CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, which is backed by Murdoch’s News Corp, the US cable giant is considering a new bid after its initial offer, in the low US$60bn region, was rejected.

Disney had previously agreed with Fox to pay US$52.4bn in stocks for a range of its assets. Despite this being significantly lower than Comcast’s bid, Murdoch opted to accept it due to regulatory concerns.

US telecoms giant AT&T’s US$85bn acquisition of HBO’s owner, Time Warner, has been hampered by regulatory investigations, with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) filing a lawsuit in November to block the takeover because of competition concerns.

Comcast was thought to be out of the race for the Fox assets, apparently leaving the Mouse House free to agree a deal. However, the pact is yet to be officially approved.

In related news, Fox has pledged to keep its UK channel Sky News independent and continue funding the loss-making business for five years as it seeks to reassure regulators over its proposed US$15.7bn takeover of European pay TV firm Sky.

Regulators are concerned that Murdoch’s ownership of UK newspapers The Sun and The Times, as well as TV, radio and online news outlets would give him too much influence if he was also to acquire the 61% of Sky he doesn’t already own. The separation of Sky News is an attempt to address that issue.

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