It looks like Fox has another offer on the table to purchase the majority of their media assets, even though Disney already made a $52.4 billion deal to acquire the majority of 21st Century Fox last December. Comcast is reportedly now looking to put together financing so they can make an all-cash offer to purchase the 21st Century Fox assets that Disney has already agreed to buy. While nothing is guaranteed at the moment, a shake-up could be coming. So those of you looking forward to seeing the X-Men and Fantastic Four hanging out with The Avengers in a few years may want to temper expectations just a bit.
There are a lot of moving parts, but basically, Comcast is trying to make an offer to Fox that is much more appealing than what Disney has already agreed to. Disney's $52.4 billion offer is a combination of stock and cash. Comcast, according to reports, would not only outbid the Mouse House, but would do it all in cash. Even though that would truly complicate things, an offer such as that may become too difficult for Fox to pass up. Even so, there is a lot to consider.
Comcast was in the running previously to purchase the majority of 21st Century Fox's assets, which includes all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, as well as the studio's stake in Hulu and the majority of their TV assets. Fox will still exist once the purchase is done, but the company will only have their broadcast station, Fox News and their sports outlets. However, even though Comcast made a larger offer than Disney, Fox decided not to go with their offer over concerns of regulatory approval, which is needed for a deal of this size. But Comcast is looking to see if regulators approve AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, HBO and more. If that deal is approved, Comcast has no reason to think their offer for Fox would be an issue, as there would be a precedent set for a deal of that size. It's expected Comcast will make their unsolicited offer to Fox almost immediately if the AT&T deal is approved.
Then there's the matter of international broadcasting network Sky. Fox currently controls 39 percent of Sky, which is part of what makes purchasing their assets so appealing. Comcast is actively trying to make a bid to get a majority stake in Sky. But it's complicated. Fox has faced issues with regulators in the U.K. over concerns that they would have too much control over British media, which has stopped them from gaining a majority stake. Still, Comcast is making a bid for Sky, in addition to putting together the money needed for this potential cash offer.
Another thing to consider, from Fox's point of view, is the time it takes to make a deal such as this happen. Fox is already six months into the process of making this deal official since announcing the purchase in December. If Fox ditches the Disney offer in favor of a richer deal from Comcast, they're going to have to go back to square one. That could set the whole process back by a year or more.
From Disney's perspective, if Comcast does manage to muscle their way in, this would be huge. Disney is planning on using Fox's assets to get into the streaming game. They are launching their own streaming service next year and it's suspected that they will use Fox's large library to beef up their content offerings. Not only that, but Fox controls the lingering Marvel character rights, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Disney would be able to include those characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe once the Fox deal is approved by regulators, which is a big deal for fans. That would be off the table if Comcast somehow wins out instead.
It's also worth pointing out that this potential bid from Comcast is unsolicited. Fox chose Disney in the first place over Comcast. There is no reason to think that they are unhappy with the Disney deal and they aren't looking for different offers. So it's difficult to imagine that Fox would derail things this far down the road. But who knows? If Comcast puts together an offer too good to pass up, this could all get very interesting, very fast. This news was first reported by Reuters.