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Walt Disney’s deal to purchase most of the assets of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion is in more jeopardy than some may believe, a Wall Street analyst said Thursday, citing inside sources.
Richard Greenfield of BTIG said Rupert Murdoch, who controls Fox along with his sons, James and Lachlan, simply wants to do business with the highest bidder, which could be Comcast at about $60 billion.
Comcast acknowledged last month that it was preparing a “superior” all-cash bid to buy the assets Disney has agreed to purchase for $52.4 billion, including the film and TV studio, Fox’s interest in the European pay-TV giant Sky, some TV stations and more.
Greenfield said the conventional wisdom that Murdoch prefers a deal that would make him one of Disney’s largest shareholders, and avoid some taxes, is wrong — what he cares about is getting the most money for the assets.
“Rupert, like his shareholders, [is] now fully aligned and simply [wants] the best possible outcome, meaning the most dollars, whether that’s cash or cash and stock,” Greenfield told digital news network Cheddar.
What would be left behind if regulators allow Disney — or Comcast — to buy most of Fox is being refered to as “new Fox.” Those assets would be the broadcast network, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and Fox’s sports networks.
“Rupert Murdoch is not set on selling to Disney,” Greenfield said. “This is a real opening for Comcast to come in with a very significant premium bid to where Disney is now.”
Comcast wants the Fox assets due to its global footprint, the analyst said, and so that a combined Universal-20th Century Fox film studio can compete better with Disney’s movie production, powered by the likes of Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.
Comcast also has bid roughly $31 billion to purchase alll of Sky, while Fox is trying to purchase the 61 percent of Sky it doesn’t already own.
NEW: @RichBTIG tells us that Rupert Murdoch is no longer set on selling 21st Century Fox to Disney for stock, but is looking to get maximum value for the assets, which leaves the door wide open for Comcast to swoop in with a big offer. #CheddarLIVE pic.twitter.com/hHOFdtXH77
— Cheddar (@cheddar) June 7, 2018
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