Comcast Enters Bidding War for Media Assets of 21st Century Fox

Comcast Corp. joined the pursuit of entertainment assets for 21st Century Fox the multimedia giant owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Comcast expressed interest in acquiring the movie studio of Fox based in Los Angeles, its sports networks, cable channels along with its huge international operations, said a pair of sources familiar with the situation.

The cable company, based in Philadelphia already is the owner of NBCUniversal, therefore buying the entertainment assets of Fox would make it one of the dominant media companies in a field that is shrinking at a rapid pace.

Walt Disney held similar talks last month with the Murdoch’s but the discussion ended without any agreement.

The talks between Comcast and 21st Century Fox are at just a preliminary stage, said the two sources. Other bidders appear to be circling in as well including Verizon and Amazon.com.

Fox hired an investment banking firm to field the interest from several companies, said one person that is familiar with the decision.

If Comcast were to acquire the assets, a deal would combine the assets of two of the biggest media companies and would likely draw the attention of the United States Department of Justice that is currently considering another deal of blockbuster proportion with the proposed $85 billion acquisition by AT&T of Time Warner the media company that would include CNN, TBS, HBO and the television and movie studio Warner Bros.

Insiders in the industry expect the DOJ to file suit blocking the sale due to AT&T refusing to divest the assets of Time Warner, such as CNN as well as other cable channels. In addition, the DOJ has looked previously disapprovingly at ambitions by Comcast to grow.

The DOJ was preparing earlier to block a merger attempt by Comcast for Time Warner Cable, but in 2015 that deal was abandoned by Comcast.

The largest voting shareholder of Comcast is CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts and family. The cable company has grown through several acquisitions.

Comcast completed an acquisition of $3.8 billion in August of 2016 for DreamWorks Animation, the boutique studio of Jeffrey Katzbenberg that created such hits as Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.

Comcast considered the purchase of DreamWorks animation as the best and most efficient way of becoming an animation force.

Not all media companies are able to take part in trying to acquire Fox’s assets. Fox has a $52 billion market capitalization, but Comcast has over 25 million clients for its television and internet service giving it plenty of cash to make big purchases.

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