Comcast makes $65B bid for 21st Century Fox assets, nudging out Disney

Comcast on Wednesday said it has submitted a $65 billion, all-cash bid to acquire film and television assets from 21st Century Fox, setting up a direct clash with the Walt Disney Company and its pending acquisition of the same properties.

The media giant’s bid offers $35 per share in cash, or roughly 19% higher than the value of Disney’s offer, Comcast said in a press release. The company said the structure of its bid is “at least as favorable to [21st Century Fox] shareholders as the Disney offer.”

In an open letter to 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James Murdoch, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said its bid had received unanimous approval from its board of directors and would not require a shareholder vote to proceed.

“We are highly confident in our ability to finance the transaction, and our offer includes no financing-related conditions,” Roberts said. “We are also highly confident that our proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that our transaction is as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction.”

Disney reached an agreement in principle to purchase Fox’s film and television properties, as well as its stake in streaming platform Hulu and European news outlet Sky, for $52.4 billion in stock. Comcast’s bid came as federal regulators mulled whether to approve the original deal.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has repeatedly denied to comment on the deal itself, citing the ongoing regulatory process, but has expressed excitement about his company’s plan for how to integrate the assets. Fox’s film and studio content was expected to serve as key components of Disney’s upcoming branded streaming service, which is set for release in 2019.

FOX Business Network senior correspondent Charles Gasparino was first to report that Comcast was planning to announce its bid after market close.

21st Century Fox, the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News, confirmed Wednesday night that it had received Comcast's offer.

“21st Century Fox remains subject to the Disney Merger Agreement. Consistent with the terms of this agreement and the fiduciary duties of the Company's directors, 21st Century Fox's Board, in consultation with its outside legal counsel and financial advisors, will carefully review and consider the Comcast proposal,” the company said in a statement.

Disney representatives could not be immediately reached.

Comcast’s offer was made public one day after a federal judge approved an $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner, despite a challenge from the Justice Department, which argued the deal would harm consumers and weaken competition in the media space. The case was seen as a crucial test for whether a sale of Fox assets would pass a regulatory challenge. Fox shares spiked on news of the judge’s decision.

This story has been updated.