FOX Agrees Merge With Disney After New $71 Billion Bid

Disney's new offer is reportedly $38 per share in cash and stock, along with taking on $13.8B of Fox's net debt, increasing the total transaction to $85.1B.

21st Century Fox Inc. accepted a sweetened, $71.3-billion bid from Walt Disney Co. for its entertainment assets, outbidding Comcast Corp.in a battle for one of the media industry's biggest prizes. It's also roughly $6 billion more than the bid made by rival Comcast last week, which tallied in at around $65 billion (Comcast is the parent company of NBC Universal, which owns SYFY WIRE). This bid is not only $18.9 billion higher than its original bid in December but it has also changed its terms, which had originally offered only stock, to offer a 50/50 split between a cash and stock payout. Disney said it's raising its offer because Fox's value increased due to "tax reform and operating improvements".

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. "It goes beyond just pushing the envelope for Comcast to use this bid to try to extend its reach yet further", said Gene Kimmelman, a former antitrust attorney for the Justice Department.

Do you expect Comcast to make a counter-bid?

"We are already six months into the regulatory process and we are confident we have a clear and timely path to approval", Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said Wednesday morning on a call with analysts.

"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".

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Fox shares rose 5.4 percent, to $47.11, in premarket trading, while Comcast was marginally lower.

Fox said it will postpone its special shareholders meeting in order to provide stockholders with an opportunity to evaluate Disney's amended offer. But the NY company also said it is still weighing both offers, and noted that Disney's new bid doesn't have any provisions in it that prevents Fox from considering other offers.

That court decision paved the way for Comcast's attempt to swipe Fox from Disney.

The Disney-Comcast contest will determine who controls much of Rupert Murdoch's empire, including Fox's movie and TV studios, television networks such as FX, and multichannel providers like Star India and Sky Plc.

Watch 21st Century Fox trade in real time here. Earlier this spring, the Fox board had decided that a deal with cable giant Comcast would pose too great a regulatory risk to pass muster with lawmakers, although in the wake of the AT&T-Time Warner merger, those concerns may no longer hold water.

  • Michelle Webb