More than two weeks after the first rumblings, Comcast announced this morning that it's in the "advanced stages" of preparations to make an all-cash offer for key assets of 21st Century Fox in hopes of outbidding The Walt Disney Co.
"While no final decision has been made," the telecommunication conglomerate said in a statement, "at this point the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced."
It was reported earlier this month that Comcast, whose properties already include Universal Pictures and NBC, was attempting to line up financing for a cash offer that would be more appealing to Fox shareholders than the $52.4 billion all-stock bid announced in December by Disney.
At stake are such 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.
If 21st Century Fox were to accept the Comcast offer, it would have to pay a $1.52 billion breakup fee to Disney. Of course, Comcast courted Fox once before, in November, with an all-stock proposal 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.
Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed Comcast's renewed interest earlier this month, saying, “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."
It was previously reported that Comcast is planning to submit its offer only if AT&T’s planned acquisition of Time Warner emerges victorious next month from the Justice Department’s legal challenge.