Comcast says it's considering an all-cash offer for 21st Century Fox that outbids Disney

Michael SetoComcast CEO Brian Roberts.
  • Comcast signalled a new bidding war on Wednesday as it announced it was considering an all-cash offer for the 21st Century Fox assets that Disney already agreed to buy.
  • Comcast said in a statement that it hadn’t made a final proposal but that “the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced.”
  • Disney agreed to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s assets, excluding Fox News, Fox Business, and other properties, for $US52 billion.

Comcast said Wednesday it was considering an all-cash bid for most of 21st Century Fox’s assets to outbid Disney’s previously announced offer.

Reports earlier in May indicated that Comcast was speaking with investment banks and preparing a bid to surpass Disney’s $US52 billion offer. The assets Disney agreed to buy in December excluded the Fox News channel and Fox Business Network to avoid the regulatory scrutiny that would come with a single company owning ESPN and several other TV networks.

If Disney wins out, it will beef up its entertainment slate with cable channels like FX. The competing offer for 21st Century Fox’s assets comes amid ratings declines across TV networks as more viewers opt for cheaper streaming and on-demand content.

Comcast’s announcement escalated a bidding war that was already underway in Europe for Fox’s satellite business. Comcast made a £22 billion ($US30 billion) offer for the 61% stake it doesn’t already own in the European pay-TV group Sky.

Comcast said it hadn’t made a final proposal, but “the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced.” Earlier reports indicated that Comcast was waiting on a US judge’s ruling on AT&T’s planned acquisition of Time Warner before submitting an offer for Fox.

Comcast shares fell by as much as 2% in premarket trading, and 21st Century Fox gained more than 1%.

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