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Comcast confirms plan to top Fox bid

US media giant Comcast has confirmed it is preparing a rival US$52bn bid for the 21st Century Fox assets that Disney appeared to be about to acquire.

The Walt Disney Company agreed a US$52.4bn stock deal for 21st Century Fox assets including its film and TV studios, US cable networks and international channels in one of the biggest media stories of 2017.

That deal seemed set to progress, with Fox last week announcing the senior executive line-up for the ‘new Fox’ group, which would focus on news and sport once the Disney deal has gone through.

However, reports emerged last month that Comcast was putting together a rival cash bid for the assets and the company has now confirmed this.

In a statement, Comcast said: “Comcast confirms that it is considering, and is in advanced stages of preparing, an offer for the businesses that Fox has agreed to sell to Disney.

“Any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney. The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast… would be at least as favourable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer.”

The statement goes on to say no final decision has been made, and the earlier reports suggested that NBCUniversal’s owner is awaiting the outcome of the AT&T and Time Warner merger, which is opposed by the Trump administration, before it proceeds.

Comcast is also in the process of trying to beat 21st Century Fox’s bid for the 61% of European satcaster Sky that it doesn’t already own.

That received a boost earlier this week when the UK culture secretary Matt Hancock said he was not minded to refer Comcast’s bid to competition regulators, in stark contrast to the Fox bid, which has become mired in political red tape.

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