Sunday 26 May 2019

Disney in the spotlight as Comcast makes big Fox bid

The Simpsons
The Simpsons

Gerry Smith

Disney is under pressure to respond after rival Comcast made a $65bn (€55.8bn) bid for 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets - the same holdings Disney had agreed to buy for about $52.4bn (€45bn).

At stake is a trove of media properties, ranging from 'The Simpsons' to 'X-Men', which are key to Disney fending off the threat from Netflix and other streaming upstarts. The question is whether Disney can convince Fox investors that it is still the most compelling partner.

"So far Comcast has put a lot more muscle and aggression into its moves," said Claire Enders, founder of media research firm Enders Analysis. "Clearly the resolve on the Comcast side is absolute."

Comcast, the largest US cable-TV provider, is offering $35 (€30) a share for the Fox assets, saying the bid represents a 19pc premium over the Disney offer. And it is cash, rather than the stock that Disney is proposing.

The move follows AT&T's victory over the US Justice Department in its anti-trust battle to take over Time Warner. That outcome is expected to spur a wave of media consolidation.

The Disney-Comcast contest will determine who controls much of Rupert Murdoch's empire, including Fox's movie and TV studios. With Wednesday's bid, Comcast boss Brian Roberts is seeking to disrupt Disney CEO Bob Iger's plan to use Fox properties to bolster that company's already vast entertainment offerings.

Under the terms of its merger agreement with Fox, Disney has the right of refusal on any counter-offer. While it will have five days to make a fresh bid, the clock doesn't start ticking until after the Fox board has assessed the Comcast offer and deemed it superior to Disney's. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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