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Comcast Mulling New Bid for Fox Assets

"Comcast Corp is considering a new offer for Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox assets," Reuters (Feb. 12, Athavaley, Toonkel) sources are reporting, "despite an agreement in December to sell them to Walt Disney Co for $52.4 billion." The company's deliberations indicate that it believes it still has a chance to close a deal with Fox, even though it last bid for more than $60 billion was rejected. Fox’s main concern about the Comcast bid was that a tie-up between the two companies would face significant antitrust risks. Moving forward, Comcast's decision will be informed by how Fox justifies the deal with Disney in a regulatory filing to its shareholders sometime before they are called on to vote on the deal later this summer, the sources added.

According to the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 12, Sharma, Ramachandran), Comcast executive still believe they had offered adequate protections in their last offer against antitrust risk. "A Comcast acquisition of Fox would be a 'vertical' deal," notes the newspaper, "adding more cable TV channels to a company that also is a powerhouse in channel-distribution." The federal government previously signaled concerns about vertical deals when it sued to block AT&T Inc.'s acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

Variety (Feb. 11) adds that Comcast executives may well wait a few weeks before making a formal bid to see how the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust case plays out. That trial is set to begin in federal court in Washington, D.C., on March 19. "Comcast may ultimately choose to take no further action," concludes the entertainment publication, "adding that the release of a pro