Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) is seeking $60 billion of new financing in order to make a rival all-cash offer for the media assets that Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) has already agreed to sell to Walt Disney Co. (DIS), people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Sources reported that the cable operator’s attempt to outbid Disney’s initial offer of $52 billion also hinges on whether the U.S. Department of Justice opposes AT&T Inc.’s (T) planned $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. (TWX). A final decision on the takeover, which has attracted antitrust concerns, is expected in June.
Comcast’s decision to bid for some of Fox’s assets with cash came several months after it had an all-stock offer rejected. In November, the Murdoch family, which controls Fox, turned down a bid from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company because they believed that a tie-up with the cable operator would more likely be blocked by regulators. The Murdoch family also favored owning Disney stock over Comcast stock.
According to a regulatory filing, Comcast offered to acquire Fox’s entertainment networks, movie studios, television production and international assets in an all-stock deal valued at $34.41 per share, or $64 billion. Fox rejected the offer, agreeing to an all-stock deal with Disney for $29.54 per share instead.
A potential stumbling block in Comcast’s latest bid could be Fox Executive Chair Rupert Murdoch’s preference to be paid in stock rather than cash. According to Reuters’ sources, Murdoch favors stock transactions because they are non-taxable for shareholders.
News of a potential bidding war sent Fox’s share price up 4% in pre-market trading. Comcast’s shares fell 1.51%, while Disney was trading 0.47% lower. (See also: What a Disney, Fox Merger Could Mean for Netflix.)
Comcast, owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, also recently made a separate $30 billion offer to gain control of Sky PLC. Fox bid $16 billion for the remaining 61% of the European satellite TV company in 2016, but has since had trouble securing approval from British regulators. (See also: Comcast Formalizes $30.7 Billion Bid for Sky.)