FOX Accepts Higher Cash Bid From Disney - Dealing A Blow To Comcast

Disney making $70.3 billion counterbid for Twenty First Century Fox

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Disney has boosted its offer for 21st Century Fox to more than $71bn in a bid to knock rival Comcast out of the battle to buy the bulk of Rupert Murdoch's entertainment empire.

The mouse is chasing the fox.

The bidding war for 21st Century Fox continues. They are amassing ever more programming to better compete with technology companies such as Amazon and Netflix for viewers' attention - and dollars.

Disney's move had been expected since Comcast made its bid last week. Disney will also now control the rights to such current Fox cinematic franchises as Avatar, Planet of the Apes, Alien, Predator, Die Hard, Kingsman, Ice Age and Night at the Museum. "Direct-to-consumer distribution has become an even more compelling proposition in the six months since we announced the deal". As we previously reported, whichever company acquires Fox will hold the fate of several of Marvel's most beloved characters, including the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four. If Comcast wins, it would get a larger portfolio of cable channels including FX and National Geographic. Additionally, Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts Wednesday morning, "We are already six months into the regulatory process and we are confident we have a clear and timely path to approval".

Iger also pointed to regulatory advantages enjoyed by Disney. Comcast, which had proposed to pay $35 per share, declined to comment on Disney's freshened offer. "It goes beyond just pushing the envelope for Comcast to use this bid to try to extend its reach yet further", said Gene Kimmelman, a former antitrust attorney for the Justice Department.

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GBH Insights analyst Dan Ives said he thinks the bid could still grow to as high as $80 billion. "That said, this poker game appears to be just getting started". 21st Century Fox also holds approximately 39.1 per cent of the issued shares of Sky, Europe's leading entertainment company, which serves almost 23 million households across five countries.

Disney will also take on about $13.8 billion of Fox's net debt, implying a total transaction value of about $85.1 billion.

The deal would include Fox movie and TV studios, some cable networks and worldwide assets, but not Fox News Channel or the Fox television network.

"We remain convinced that the combination of 21st Century Fox's iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney's will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world". According to Disney's release in December this was a "definitive agreement" between the companies, but that was shaken up this summer by an offer from Comcast.

Fox shares rose 5.4 percent, to $47.11, in premarket trading, while Comcast was marginally lower.

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