The purchase of the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox, including 20th Century Fox Studios and the FOX Television network, to Disney may not be as sure a thing as thought.
Wall Street analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG has told business and tech news site Cheddar that Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch “Rupert Murdoch is no longer set on selling 21st Century Fox to Disney for stock, but is looking to get maximum value for the assets, which leaves the door wide open for Comcast to swoop in with a big offer.”
That big offer could be coming from Comcast. The cable giant had previously been interested in buying Fox for themselves and it is being reported that they are currently preparing a cash offer of $60 billion. This is significantly higher than the $52.4 billion in stock that Disney is offering Murdoch and 21st Century Fox.
Greenfield states –
Rupert, like his shareholders, [is] now fully aligned and simply [wants] the best possible outcome, meaning the most dollars, whether that’s cash or cash and stock. Rupert Murdoch is not set on selling to Disney. This is a real opening for Comcast to come in with a very significant premium bid to where Disney is now.
Comcast currently owns Universal Studios and feels that acquiring Fox would give them a more competitive edge against Disney’s powerful combination of Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar and its own name brand studio.
Disney’s plans to purchase Fox first came to light last November when it was reported that the House of Mouse had been in discussions with Twenty-First Century Fox to acquire a significant portion of that company’s assets, including its film and television studios, as well as its FX and National Geographic cable channels. The newly divested Fox would then concentrate on its news and sports outlets.
The deal, which is currently going through a number of regulatory and legal reviews, was greeted by some as a very bad thing. The Writers Guild of America released a public statement condemning the buy out stating anti-trust concerns.
On the flip side, some genre fans seemed elated that the acquisition would allow Disney to transfer the film rights to Marvel Comics characters the X-Men and Fantastic Four which are currently held by Fox back to their Marvel Studios. Rumors immediately started spreading that those characters were already being considered for appearances in the next wave of Marvel Studios’ interconnected Cinematic Universe series of films that will kick off after the release of The Avengers 4 next May.