Sometimes, mergers and acquisitions turn into rom-coms and it seems Comcast has returned to disrupt the wedding even as the 21st Century Fox prepares to walk down the aisle.
According to a new CNBC report (via The Wrap), Comcast may yet try to top The Walt Disney Company’s $52.4 billion bid for 21st Century Fox film and television assets. “No decision has been made by Comcast on a topping bid yet, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision is private,” wrote CNBC’s Alex Sherman. He added that Disney is already aware of Comcast’s possible move and is preparing to counter it.
Presently, this is all conjecture as Comcast waits to see the results of a trial which has stalled the AT&T and Time Warner merger. Like AT&T, Comcast’s telecom holdings may prove a little too inconvenient for regulatory agencies to accept. In fact, Sherman highlights this as a reason Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch chose Disney over Comcast’s allegedly higher offer.
But the most interesting aspect of the the report is why Comcast wants Fox: its international cable channel holdings. As Sherman put it, the company “sees more potential growth outside of the U.S. than it does domestically.” Which means those geeky dreams fans have about the X-Men returning to Marvel or the Fox Fanfare restored to the Star Wars films mean nothing to Comcast and its expansion plans. Which, it seems, having nothing to do with countering the size of united AT&T and Time Warner.
Then again, all of this is speculative. Fox would have to pay a steep penalty to Disney if it jilted the company at the altar and ran off with Comcast in its quirky Mini Cooper — if you’ll forgive the continuing rom-com metaphor — for an Italian getaway. And it’s also possible the AT&T/Timer Warner merger will be called off, cooling the consolidation trend all together.