Shares in the commercial broadcaster fell by 19p to £13.53½ on the back of a Reuters report which said that Comcast had asked banks to bump up a bridging loan by as much as $60 billion so that it could make an offer for the film, television and global assets of 21st Century Fox.
Comcast - which owns NBC and Universal Pictures - apparently only plans to go ahead with the bid if a federal judge allows AT&T Inc's planned $85bn acquisition of Time Warner to proceed, with a decision for that expected to come in June. However, a new report suggests that Comcast is not only reviving its bid for Fox, but is also prepared to spend some serious money to do so.
There seems to be no shortage of twists and turns in the ongoing battle for 21st Century Fox's assets.
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Comcast is waiting to make a formal offer until they see how the judge rules in the case regarding AT&T's pending acquisition of Time Warner. After its bids fell through, the company still sought to purchase European pay-TV group Sky, offering up $21 billion, which is said to be 16% higher than the bid received by Fox's Rupert Murdoch. That opened the door to Comcast's counteroffer.
If Comcast struck a deal with Fox, the telecomm giant would hit a media jackpot, acquiring Fox's film, television and worldwide businesses, giving the company a hefty portfolio to rival rising platforms like Netflix. Comcast already has a $30 billion bridge loan to finance its Sky offer.
Disney agreed to buy Fox's assets, including the existing 39 per cent stake it has in Sky, last December after Mr Murdoch turned down a higher bid from Comcast on the grounds that it had a lower chance of winning USA regulatory approval.
Disney shares fell 1 percent in morning trade in NY, while Comcast's dipped 3.5 percent to $31.25.
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Back in November, Comcast made a $64b all-stock offer for the Fox assets up for sale, but were rejected according to Reuters due to "regulatory hurdles". "If they acquire both and remain integrated, it would change our thesis (Cable would be less than 50% of the value); however, it would be hard not to be excited about a phenomenal Cable asset coupled with a global content powerhouse, trading at 9x FCF". Murdoch was concerned about the reaction of Washington regulators to a deal with Comcast.
Shares of Fox were last up 2.2 percent at $38.86.
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