Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Entertaiment | By Simon Arnold

Disney increases bid for Murdoch's Fox assets

Disney increases bid for Murdoch's Fox assets

Disney had made a $52.5 billion all-stock offer in December.

At stake is such Fox assets as FX Networks, National Geographic, a 30-percent stake in Hulu, a 31.9-percent stake in United Kingdom pay-TV and broadband provider Sky, and the 20th Century Fox film and television production studios, which include the movie rights for the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, among other properties. But, if we've learned anything from these updates, it's that nothing should be set in stone just yet. The big question here was now if Disney would let things lie or take on Comcast with a higher offer.

Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, said Fox believes Disney's offer is better than Comcast's -- but the company said it would consider bids from other companies, including a revised offer from Comcast.

Today, that scale tips once more in Disney's favor. 21st Century Fox shareholders will receive an exchange ratio of 0.3324 shares of Disney common stock if the average Disney stock price at closing is above $114.32 and 0.4063 shares of Disney common stock if the average Disney stock price at closing is below $93.53. So buckle-up, it looks like this ride isn't over yet.

Iger said Disney has been working with regulators in the USA and around the world and has "made a lot of progress" toward obtaining approvals.

"Disney believes the transaction has a clear and timely path to regulatory approval", Disney's announcement said.

Comcast, which has lodged a separate £22bn bid to buy Sky, is expected to respond with a sweeter deal as a bidding war hots up over the summer.

Disney also wants to acquire those businesses.

The amended agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of Disney and 21st Century Fox.

"The acquisition of 21st Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies, and after six months of integration planning we're even more enthusiastic and confident in the strategic fit of the assets and the talent at Fox". 21st Century Fox also holds approximately 39.1 per cent of the issued shares of Sky, Europe's leading entertainment company, which serves almost 23 million households across five countries. Insiders speculated that Comcast would again provide a counter bid, but with federal approval imminent it could be a moot point.

The Fox sale would not include major assets such as the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Broadcasting Company. A new date for the shareholder meetings has not yet been announced.

The United States Justice Department could approve the deal in two weeks time, according to the source, who also states that Disney is willing to see some assets to address issues of competition problems that concern regulators.

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