As expected, Comcast Corp. entered into a bidding war with The Walt Disney Co. by making a $65 billion all-cash offer for 21st Century Fox's key assets.
The move comes just a day after a federal judge approved AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner, over the objections of the U.S. Justice Department, giving the telecommunications giant control of the parent of Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, CNN and HBO. That was the signal Comcast was waiting for to make its move to outbid Disney for such Fox assets as FX Networks, National Geographic, a 30-percent stake in Hulu, and the 20th Century Fox film and television production studios, which include the movie rights for the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool.
Fox will spin off the Fox Broadcasting network and local stations, Fox News, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a new company, called New Fox.
The largest cable-television provider in the United States, Comcast owns NBC and Universal Pictures, among other properties.
Comcast's offer is months in the making, as the company made an all-stock proposal for Fox in November that was actually more generous than Disney’s. However, Comcast reportedly refused to sweeten the pot with a fee that would go to Fox should federal regulators reject the deal.
Following reports last month that Comcast was lining up cash to attempt to woo Rupert Murdoch & Co. again, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “We made a good deal, actually a deal that shareholders reacted quite favorably to and we’re going to remain confident in our ability to close.” Nevertheless, it was reported in May that Disney was seeking financing to make an all-cash counter-offer; the entertainment giant's current offer is $52.4 billion, entirely in stock.
Comcast sent a letter to the board of directors of 21st Century Fox, notifying them of the superior offer ahead of the planned July 10 vote on the Disney merger.