Comcast Corp. said Thursday it is dropping out of the fight for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, clearing the way for them to be acquired by The Walt Disney Corp.
“Our incredible enthusiasm for this acquisition and the value it will create has continued to grow as we’ve come to know 21st Century Fox’s stellar array of talent and assets,” Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Iger said in a statement. “We’re extremely pleased with today’s news, and our focus now is on completing the regulatory process and ultimately moving toward integrating our businesses.”
Comcast said that it will now focus on its bid for European pay-TV giant Sky.
Iger has agreed to spend $71 billion for the Fox assets, which include the company’s television and movie studios, cable channels FX and National Geographic, the controlling stake in streaming service Hulu, and international properties in India and Latin America.
For Comcast, continuing to pursue the Fox assets just became too expensive and a big stretch for wary shareholders, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Comcast would have had to offer more than $80 billion to stay competitive with Disney’s sweetened $71 billion bid and it has separately bid $34 billion for Sky.
What’s more, each additional offer for Fox also raised the price of the London-based Sky satellite-TV service because Fox owns 39 percent of Sky, which Rupert Murdoch co-founded in the late 1980s. Comcast decided to fold in the Fox fight so that it could claim the international prize it really wants, Sky, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking, The Times reported.
“I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement.
The Disney-Fox transaction is expected to transform Hollywood into a land of fewer giants. Disney is taking the big swing because it feels it needs greater scale and more entertainment firepower to compete with tech titans such as Netflix, Google, Facebook, Amazon.com and Apple Inc., which have deep pockets, global businesses and direct relationships with consumers, according to The Times.
Iger said in a statement: “Our incredible enthusiasm for this acquisition and the value it will create has continued to grow as we’ve come to know 21st Century Fox’s stellar array of talent and assets.”
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