Comcast closing in on plan to challenge Disney's Fox bid

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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. As US market growth slows, growth has to come from overseas and Hollywood is seeing the same trend. Philadelphia-based Comcast has already made a 22 billion pound ($30 billion) offer to acquire the 61% stake in European pay-TV group Sky Plc that Fox doesn't already own. Disney also owns the rights to the Star Wars movie franchise after buying Lucasfilm in October 2012.

The battle over Fox is emblematic of how rapidly the media industry is changing.

Comcast, the world's largest broadcasting company, said yesterday that it was in the "advanced stages" of putting together a bid for the same package of assets as those sought by Disney.

The Comcast deal would be vertical integration while the Disney deal is horizontal.

It's also the latest in a dizzying period of merger moves in tech and media: In addition to Disney's deal for Fox, Comcast is trying to undermine Fox (yes, the same Fox) to win 61 percent of United Kingdom television company Sky TV, and AT&T is trying to buy TV programmer Time Warner despite government opposition. Shares in all three companies stayed locked in those ranges for most of the day, which saw small gains for Wall Street's major stock indices. "The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast, including with respect to both the spin-off of "New Fox" and the regulatory risk provisions and the related termination fee, would be at least as favourable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer". The AT&T and Time Warner deal too has been challenged by the Department of Justice on anti- trust monopoly grounds, and the verdict in June will be an indicator of whether the Comcast Fox deal will pass regulatory muster too. Comcast chief Brian Roberts is set to clash with Disney's Bob Iger for control of the film and TV empire that Rupert Murdoch and sons James and Lachlan spent years building. And this wouldn't be the first time that Comcast and Disney have faced off. Comcast made an initial bid in December but bowed out due to antitrust concerns. Aside from the capital injection, there is the USA anti-trust regulations to be mindful of. It seems Comcast is not willing to give up so easily on its mission to spoil Disney's big plans - which could include, among many other significant results, a merging of the MCU and Fox's X-Men universe.

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But if Comcast insists on deals, Begley added, "It's now or never".

Rumors about Comcast's move to outbid Disney began buzzing in February.

"Disney is likely to put up quite a fight", he said.

Jeffrey Seah, partner at Mettle & Salt, and venture partner at INCUVEST and Quest Ventures said "Every player in the content creation and distribution business is searching for a global platform with the advent of OTT players of all forms, and the new mega and irregular players like Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Tencent". This doesn't mean that Comcast will automatically get Fox, but it does spell trouble for Disney.