"These are highly strategic and complementary businesses and we are in our minds the right buyer", said Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts in a conference call. Disney's offer was $52 billion and all in stock. Critics have sharply criticized the merger, but in a surprise ruling, a federal judge found that the Department of Justice had failed to show that such a business deal would harm competition within the market. Purchasing Fox is a way to scale up. At stake are the 20th Century Fox film and TV studios, nearly two dozen regional sports networks, cable networks including FX, and 30 percent ownership in Hulu. Those will be spun off into a newly-listed company.
Still on the cards is Comcast's £22bn offer for the rest of Sky that Fox doesn't already own from April, following on from a takeover bid by Fox at £10.75 a share in 2016.
Both those companies eventually want all of Sky. Fox's film and studio content was expected to serve as key components of Disney's upcoming branded streaming service, which is set for release in 2019. Comcast is bidding independently for the same stake, leaving Sky's fate uncertain.
Comcast in a statement outlined an offer that was similar to Disney's, including a commitment to the same divestitures.
The new offer is likely to prompt a response from Disney, and force the Murdochs to review their position on the tie-up with Disney, which owns the ABC television networks ESPN and is a major Hollywood player. Those will be spun off into a new company.
"Our proposal represents a premium of approximately 19 percent to the value of Disney's offer as of noon today".
Comcast first approached Fox previous year with an informal proposal.
The Trump administration's Justice Department, which opposed the AT&T-Time Warner deal on the grounds that it would lead to fewer choices and higher prices for consumers, will have a tough time trying to stop the frenzy. "He's a very persistent guy". In Wednesday's regular session, Fox popped 7.4% to 43.41. Based on that, it would appear that the DoJ barely stood a chance in the trial, and it would have been better off settling, even if just to get a better outcome from the AT&T Time Warner merger.
Comcast has suggested that it would make some concessions if necessary. According to Variety, Comcast has offered to reimburse Fox for that penalty if they accept their offer.
Shares of Comcast, Fox and Disney were barely changed in after-hours trade.
"Our money's where our mouth is", Cavanagh said on the call with investors.
Now the ball is in Fox's court. The question is will Disney's board and management go to the mat on this transaction? If they do, they will start negotiating with Comcast. The company said the structure of its bid is "at least as favorable to [21st Century Fox] shareholders as the Disney offer".