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Comcast Tries to Pluck 21st Century Fox From Disney

10 May, 2018, 00:21 | Author: Shawna Walton
  • Fox hunt heats up as Comcast prepares to duel with Disney over Rupert Murdoch's company

Shares of Twenty First Century Fox rose nearly three percent on Tuesday after Reuters reported that cable operator Comcast Corp was preparing an all-cash bid to rival a deal agreed late a year ago with Walt Disney's Co.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Murdoch is planning to strike out on his own should the deal close, possibly launching his own venture-capital fund. However, in the months after the deal was announced, Disney CEO Bob Iger has opted against giving specifics on what role Murdoch would take at the company. These two businessmen do not like each other. Prior to joining the company then known as News Corp. he co-founded Rawkus Records, a hip-hop label that launched the careers of many rappers. Fox originally denied Comcast's deal as it would likely mean a lot of legal headaches, more so than the Time Warner/AT&T situation. A spokesperson for Disney was not immediately available.

However, if Comcast were to get Fox's assets, the rights to these characters wouldn't automatically revert to Disney as it's unknown what the specific contractual conditions would be for Marvel to get the X-Men back and if Constantin Films, who now owns the rights to the Fantastic Four, would give the rights back (though it's possible that Constantin sells to the rights to Disney).

Comcast has previously tried to disrupt the Disney / 21st Century Fox by making a bid for Sky, a pan-European media and telecommunications company that 21st Century Fox owns 39.14% controlling stake in. Today, Comcast officially notified the European Commission of its bid for Sky, expediting the government review process.

Fox has offered a raft of remedies to gain regulatory approval, such as protecting the independence and funding of Sky's news division.

The notion of James Murdoch having a possible role at Disney wasn't a factor in Fox's final decision to opt for Disney's offer over Comcast's, according to people familiar with Fox's thinking. The 21st Century Fox intellectual property would add to the exclusive content on that video streaming service. The 21st Century Fox deal is their latest battleground.

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