Disney ups Twenty-First Century Fox to more than $70.3B

Marco Green
June 20, 2018

The 21st Century Fox logo is displayed on the side of a building in midtown Manhattan.

The Walt Disney Company has boosted its bid to acquire the bulk of Twenty-First Century Fox, raising its offering to $71.3 billion in cash and stock.

The X-Men may be headed to Disney after all. A representative for Fox didn't immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

Disney's latest offer is a "very aggressive move" by Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger and may make it hard for Comcast to respond, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney. The deal will be approximately 50% cash and 50% stock, and debt will be used to partly finance the transaction. The bidding war comes after AT&T bought Time Warner for $81 billion, after a federal judge rejected the government's antitrust concerns. That outcome is expected to spur a wave of media consolidation, emboldening companies to get more aggressive with deals.

As part of the deal, Disney will acquires 20th Century Fox, Fox's film studio, as well as a cable group that includes FX Networks, National Geographic and several global channels and regional sports networks.

But the two sides aren't vying for all of Fox.

Murdoch will keep a few properties, including Fox News, the Fox Sports national cable channels and the Fox broadcasting network. That operation will be run by Lachlan Murdoch and focus on domestic television, news and sports. Comcast's offer was all cash.

In pre-market trading, Fox shares rose 5.4% to $47.11, Comcast's were marginally lower, while Disney's rose by 1.3% to $107.50.

Meanwhile, there's a separate - yet intertwined - fight for Sky, the British pay-TV company.

"The acquisition of 21st Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies", said Disney boss Robert Iger.

In any case, Comcast isn't likely to go away quietly.

Directors can either begin that process by declaring on Wednesday that Comcast's proposal has a reasonable chance of becoming a superior offer, or they can simply ask Disney for a waiver to begin conversations with Comcast. That leaves CEO Brian Roberts with some tough decisions.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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