Setting the stage for a bidding war between two of the entertainment industry’s most powerful companies, Comcast Wednesday made a $65 billion bid to acquire 21st Century Fox’s film and television businesses — topping a $52.4 billion purchase offer made late last year by The Walt Disney Co.
Philadelphia-based Comcast issued a statement saying the company had delivered a letter to the 21st Century Fox Board of Directors outlining the proposal, which is valued at $35 per share. The offer is about 19 percent higher than Disney’s all-stock offer, according to the company.
In the letter sent to Fox executives, Comcast Chairman/CEO Brian Roberts said Comcast’s offer was being made in part in response to Tuesday’s court decision clearing the way for AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner.
“We have long admired what the Murdoch family has built at 21st Century Fox,” Comcast Chairman/CEO wrote in the letter. “After our meetings last year, we came away convinced that the 21CF businesses to be sold are highly complementary to ours, and that our company would be the right strategic home for them.”
Disney and Fox announced a sales agreement in December. That deal — subject to approval from the federal government and shareholders of each company — would give Disney control of 21st Century Fox’s film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000. The acquisition would include rights to films such as “Avatar,” “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four” and “Deadpool,” as well as “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Hidden Figures,” “Gone Girl,” “The Shape of Water” and “The Martian.”
Disney would also acquire Fox’s television units — Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21 — which would include “The Americans,” “This Is Us,” “Modern Family,” “The Simpsons” and “many more hit TV series.”
Also part of the deal would be FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group, according to the companies.
Fox would maintain control of Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports and Fox News.
Disney hopes to acquire the Fox assets to bolster the offerings that will be made available on its upcoming streaming entertainment service, competing with services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
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