The sale of 20th Century Fox and other assets held by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to The Walt Disney Company may not be as done a deal as previously thought.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, analyst Richard Greenfield claims the media mogul wants to “do business with the highest bidder,” which would be Comcast with a $60 billion cash offer. The Disney offer is a cash and stock deal amounting to some $52 billion. Both numbers are dizzying, but Murdoch is entertaining them despite earlier indications that Comcast would face a tougher regulatory road in completing the deal than Disney. Greenfield suggests this common wisdom is, in fact, incorrect.
Granted, that’s one analyst’s opinion of the situation. But its solid enough to change opinions in the halls of high finance.
Comcast, for its part, has been hot to combine Fox’s international cable holdings with its own while merging Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox in to one powerhouse to compete with Disney in its box office domination. In fact, they’ve been a constant suitor since rumors of the Disney/Fox merger came to light last Fall. At the time, the cable company’s offer was said to be larger than Disney’s, but Fox announced their intention to sell to Disney last December. Comcast then sought to upend Fox’s purchase of international cable provider Sky before, apparently, returning to court Fox directly.
Should the offer be accepted, it will be sad news for Marvel fans looking forward to the return of the X-Men and Fantastic Four to Marvel Studios. But the precarious nature of these sorts of mergers was the exact reason Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige declined to answer questions about their plans for the properties: Marvel doesn’t have them yet.
Fox and Disney have scheduled a shareholder vote on July 10th to approve the merger plans. If successful, the deal is expected to close for keeps in December.