In a new escalation in the ongoing battle to lock down a prize that once seemed like an inevitable score for Disney, Comcast (parent company of NBC Universal, which owns SYFY WIRE) has just made a $65 billion, all-cash offer for most of the assets that fall under the 21st Century Fox umbrella.
Via The New York Times, Comcast’s all-cash bid signals the cable giant’s seriousness about outgunning The Walt Disney Company for exclusive rights to Fox-owned studios and entertainment properties like Fantastic Four, X-Men and The Simpsons.
If successful, the Comcast bid could dash many fans’ dreams of one day seeing character reunions and crossovers from Marvel film franchises that have long separated under Disney and Fox’s competing interests.
“21st Century Fox has not yet made a determination, in light of Comcast’s proposal, as to whether it will postpone or adjourn the July 10, 2018 special meeting of stockholders to consider certain proposals related to the Disney Merger Agreement,” said Fox's Rupert Murdoch in a statement today, via Deadline.
Comcast’s latest overture — the second it’s made in the months since Disney first struck its initial agreement with Fox late last year — follows a court ruling earlier this week that cleared a path for another giant media merger between AT&T and Time Warner. “Comcast executives had awaited the decision in that case” NYT reports, “before mounting their bid for 21st Century Fox.”
The Comcast bid is almost 20 percent higher than Disney’s original, all-stock offer of $52.4 billion. It’s also $5 billion more than Comcast’s own earlier bid of about $60 billion, which Fox rejected, reportedly over suspicion that regulators would forbid the deal from going through.
The cable giant’s aggressive bid also may test the close working relationship between Disney’s Bob Iger and Murdoch, which reportedly contributed significantly to Disney’s successful play for Fox’s stable of properties in the first place.
“21st Century Fox remains subject to the Disney Merger Agreement," said Fox in a statement today. "Consistent with the terms of this agreement and the fiduciary duties of the Company’s directors, 21st Century Fox’s Board, in consultation with its outside legal counsel and financial advisors, will carefully review and consider the Comcast proposal.”
The Disney deal, if it survives, has been on track to close within an 18-month window from the original agreement the two companies made in December of 2017. Comcast’s new play extends the still-developing saga for the fate of 21st Century Fox, so stay tuned for more updates on how this all will eventually shake out.