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

Quentin Webb 
Epic trade-war front page from Apple Daily

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.

Disney's revised offer of $38 a share, which would be split 50-50 in cash and stock, is $10 higher than Disney's first bid in December 2017. Even though a federal judge resoundingly defeated the government's lawsuit seeking to block the vertical merger of AT&T and Time Warner, the Disney CEO said he still believes a more vertical blend of Comcast (whose holdings include the No. 1 USA cable system) and Fox would face scrutiny.

The ruling suggests regulators may have a more hard time blocking a major deal in the sector on antitrust grounds. His newspapers such as Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Times of London and a portfolio of Australian properties are housed in a second company, News Corp.

This news comes after Comcast made an aggressive $65 billion all-cash offer last week for the 21st Century Fox assets, forcing Disney to increase its initial $52.4 billion purchase for the Fox acquisition.

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The deal would boost Disney's worldwide dominance in the industry and include Fox film and TV studios, as well as some cable networks and global assets. The battle for Fox has transfixed the media business, pitting Disney chief Bob Iger and Comcast head Brian Roberts against one, as the control of one of Hollywood's most storied film and television brands hangs in the balance. The deal would be about 50% cash and 50% stock, and debt would be used to partly finance the transaction.

If Fox were to start negotiations with Comcast, that could impact plans for shareholders to vote on the Disney deal next month. At the end of the day, this deal would still have to go through regulators, but with the AT&T-Time Warner merger going through, there seems to be little problem with that.

"We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry", said Rupert Murdoch, Fox's Executive Chairman, according to Deadline.

Comcast, which has lodged a separate £22bn bid to buy Sky, is expected to respond with a sweeter deal as a bidding war hots up over the summer.

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