Disney's chief executive Bob Iger on Thursday lauded Comcast's decision to withdraw its bid for 21st Century Fox entertainment assets.
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“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," Iger said in a statement to FOX Business.
Iger's statements came just hours after Comcast said it would not pursue its bid for 21st Century Fox entertainment assets, opting to focus on its recommended offer for European pay-TV company Sky.
“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 Roberts said in a statement.
The withdrawal will allow Disney to purchase the Fox assets with its $71 billion offer – higher than Comcast’s bid of $66 billion – which has been approved by the Department of Justice under the condition that Disney divest 22 regional sports networks.
“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. 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 offered 14.75 euros ($17.10) per share for Sky, valuing the European company at $34 billion. Fox, which currently owns 39% of Sky, offered 14 euro per share ($16.23) for the majority stake, valuing the company at $32.5 billion.
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Shares of Comcast were up more than 3% in early market trade following the news. Fox’s stock was down 2%. Disney shares climbed more than 2% on the news, their highest since early May of last year.
Sky is one of Europe’s largest entertainment companies, serving 23 million customers and operates in seven countries – the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. It has partnerships with Showtime, Warner Bros. and HBO – which offers the immensely popular “Game of Thrones” – as well as its own original production unit. It also broadcasts English Premier League soccer.
21st Century Fox is the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News.