Comcast floats 'superior' $65 billion bid for Fox

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Comcast has offered $65bn (£47bn) for 21st Century Fox's global entertainment assets, throwing down a challenge to Disney's $60bn bid in a move likely to prompt a fierce bidding war between the U.S. giants.

Comcast may have a tough time winning over Fox's largest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch's family. Disney made a US$52.4 billion all-stock offer for Fox, which was accepted in December. Should Comcast come out ahead in the Fox deal, Disney would stand to lose quite a bit, not only the Marvel franchises which Fox holds and remaining STAR WARS rights, but also a majority stake in Hulu.

The deal focuses on the famed Fox Hollywood film and television studios, along with its cable entertainment networks and global TV businesses.

Disney itself has "surgically" structured a transaction that "might be doable", avoiding Fox Broadcasting and big Fox sports channels, US antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said last week.

Comcast and Disney say Fox would bring original material and worldwide reach that can help them compete.

Comcast said it has offered $65bn (£48.6bn) in cash for Fox's film and television studios and worldwide businesses. That's a grand total of $65 billion, which is 19% better than the current Disney offer. The telecom would also have an interest in getting cable subscribers to switch from their providers to DirectTV (which AT&T already owns).

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Comcast first approached Fox previous year with an informal proposal. The DOJ filed suit in November, claiming that the Time Warner deal would eventually result in higher TV prices for millions of consumers. They own a 17-percent stake and would face a multi-billion dollar capital gains tax bill if he accepted an all-cash offer from Comcast, tax experts have told Reuters. It has been reported though that Fox execs are still leaning towards Disney and have asked their shareholders to do the same. In addition the cable giant says it will reimburse Fox the full $1.525bn break-up fee it would owe Disney if Team Rodent's offer is turned down. Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, then made a $60 billion offer that was rejected.

Fox in a statement said it had received the proposal and would review it.

Roberts wrote in his letter that Comcast is "highly confident" its offer will "obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner".

If things don't work out for Comcast, however, I am available for outright purchase should they need and will happily accept cash offers of that magnitude.

Comcast fell 0.7% to 32 in after-hours trading on the stock market today while Disney slipped 0.3% to 105.90.