Disney is reportedly seeking financing in case it has to make an all-cash bid for 21st Century Fox's key asset to counter an offer by Comcast.
Following news last week that Comcast is lining up cash to top Disney's $52.4 billion all-stock offer, CNBC reports that the entertainment giant is making its own preparations, in case Fox's board of directors demand money. While Fox had agreed to the acquisition in December, with the deal expected to be completed by summer 2019, Disney's initial offer had been entirely in stock.
It's unknown whether Disney's potential counteroffer will replace the all-stock bid or simply sweeten the pot to woo Fox away from Comcast. The value of stock can increase or decrease dramatically, based on the stock market, but it permits the acquisition of assets to be made largely tax-free.
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.
Comcast courted Fox once before, in November, with an all-stock proposal that was actually more generous than Disney’s. However, the telecommunications conglomerate refused to include a fee to compensate Fox should the acquisition not be approved by federal regulators.
Comcast has yet to make public the specifics of its planned cash offer. It's rumored the company, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, is waiting for a federal court ruling on AT&T's attempted acquisition of Time Warner before it proceeds.