Comcast made good on its plans to make an offer for 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets today, with a cash bid of $65 billion, or $35 per share.
That’s 19 percent more than the $52.4 billion that Disney agreed to pay in December.
This follows yesterday’s U.S. court approval of the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, which was widely expected to lead Comcast to make a new bid for Fox and, in the long-term, set the stage for broader consolidation between ISPs and media companies. (This is where I remind you that TechCrunch is owned by Oath, a digital media subsidiary of Verizon.)
In a letter to Fox executives (namely Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch), Comcast CEO Brian Roberts wrote that after meetings last year, his team was convinced that Comcast would be “the right strategic home” for the Fox assets, and that “we were disappointed when 21CF decided to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price.”
“In light of yesterday’s decision in the AT&T/Time Warner case, the limited time prior to your shareholders’ meeting, and our strong continued interest, we are pleased to present a new, all-cash proposal that fully addresses the Board’s stated concerns with our prior proposal,” Roberts said.
This could set off a battle between Comcast and Disney. The assets at stake include the Fox film studio (which owns the Avatar franchise, the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four and the original Star Wars), its TV studio, its cable networks and its stake in Hulu.
In the letter, Roberts also said a Comcast-Fox acquisition is “as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction” and that Comcast would reimburse Fox for the $1.5 billion breakup fee with Disney.
Update: Fox released a statement confirming that it has received the bid. It also said, “21st Century Fox has not yet made a determination, in light of Comcast’s proposal, as to whether it will postpone or adjourn” its July 10 stockholder meeting to discuss the Disney acquisition.