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Disney and Comcast could split Fox assets in bidding war

Contributed by
Jun 14, 2018

If you're disappointed that Disney could lose its shot at obtaining the Fantastic Four and X-Men from 20th Century Fox thanks to a new bid from Comcast, cheer up. One media analyst may have a solution.

As reported yesterday, a federal judge's decision that AT&T and Time Warner could move forward with their long-in-the-works merger has paved the way for more blockbuster mega-mergers of this sort.

Waiting until after the decision was handed down, Comcast (parent company to NBC Universal, which owns SYFY WIRE) immediately made an epic $65 billion cash offer to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox — a bid that topped Disney's $52 million all-stock play for the same properties, which includes the 20th Century Fox film studio, the FX network, a stake in Hulu, Fox's TV production studio, the Sky pay-TV service and more.

This potential acquisition has drawn criticism for media consolidation concerns. Another area of criticism is that if Fox accepts Comcast's offer over Disney's, that would deny Disney subsidiary Marvel Studios from at long last getting back the Marvel characters that the 20th Century Fox film studio owns: the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Silver Surfer and many others.

Disney is expected to make a counteroffer and may still be the more attractive buyer to Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch, according to Deadline, but one Wall Street media analyst has another possible solution to the problem. Media analyst Barton Crockett of investment firm B. Riley FBR Inc. suggested to CNBC that Disney and Comcast split the assets between them:

"We would expect Disney to at least match Comcast by adding cash, and Comcast to appease [Rupert] Murdoch's tax concerns by offering stock, and some back and forth raising the deal bid. Barring a third entrant (Internet/tech is possible), we would see the most sensible outcome as splitting the baby, with Comcast getting Sky (which we see as its main goal) and Disney getting most of the rest."

Mr. Crockett's suggestion would allow Disney to pick up all those assets (not to mention other franchises like Alien, Planet of the Apes, Avatar, American Horror Story and many others). On the other hand, Comcast may want to hand off Fox's mini-Marvel universe to its own subsidiary, Universal Pictures, which has not gotten into the superhero game at all except for a handful of Hulk and Hellboy movies.

The bigger question is: would Disney and Comcast play nice with each other, or are both companies looking at an all-or-nothing scenario?

(via CBR.com)