Comcast confirms it's close to bidding for Fox to beat out Disney

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The assets Disney agreed to buy in December excluded the Fox News channel and Fox Business Network to avoid the regulatory scrutiny that would come with a single company owning ESPN and several other TV networks.

A full-fledged bidding war for key assets of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox erupted Wednesday as media and cable giant Comcast announced it plans an all-cash bid that would top an existing offer from Walt Disney Co. But the company said that a bid would be all cash and at a premium to the value of Disney's current all-stock offer.

The deal would also give either Disney or Comcast a majority stake in Hulu, as both companies now own a 30 percent share, a coup for either media conglomerate, but one that would allow Disney to get a bigger head start in the streaming game as it prepares to launch a few of its own streaming services dedicated to its growing library of content.

The deal between Fox and Disney would have the latter company acquire Fox's movie and TV production company, and popular channel Star India, as well as a 39-percent stake in European broadcaster Sky.

To be clear, though, Comcast's proposal would not include Fox's other branches, such as their news and business networks. And this wouldn't be the first time that Comcast and Disney have faced off. Comcast made an initial bid in December but bowed out due to antitrust concerns. Fox's Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch said earlier this month that the company was committed to its agreement with Disney.

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"While a Comcast acquisition of Fox is surely challenging financially, Comcast has never shied away from a challenge", the analyst wrote. The AT&T and Time Warner deal too has been challenged by the Department of Justice on anti- trust monopoly grounds, and the verdict in June will be an indicator of whether the Comcast Fox deal will pass regulatory muster too.

A tie-up with Disney would create a giant with up to 40 percent of USA box office revenues, according to some estimates.

Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst with JBL Advisors, said that Comcast seems intent on winning a bidding war for Fox.

Comcast, the biggest cable operator in the USA, also owns TV and movie producer NBC Universal.

The move comes with Rupert Murdoch gradually withdrawing from the empire he built. Today's Nerdist News is all about the potential threat to the Disney and Fox merger. A judge is expected to rule in that case next month. AT&T and Time Warner argue they're simply trying to stay afloat in the new streaming environment. Moreover, as cord cutting grows in the United States, and consumer media consumption habits change, the market will continue to see more big deals that strive to insulate players from industry disruption.

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