Sony Also Inquiring About 21st Century Fox Assets

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Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai

The studio owned by the Japanese conglomerate has reached out to its Murdoch-controlled competitor to see which assets it might be willing to part with.

Now it's Sony Pictures that wants a piece of 21st Century Fox, insiders told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

The studio owned by the Japanese conglomerate has reached out to its Murdoch-controlled competitor to see which assets it might be willing to part with.

The negotiations, though, are just the latest wrinkle in an ongoing saga that began with Disney considering a purchase of the Fox film studio, along with cable channels and other assets, for roughly $20 billion.

Then on Thursday, insiders said that Comcast and Verizon might also be bidders.

Sources tell THR that Sony Pictures CEO Tony Vinciquerra reached out to Fox and that he is interested in roughly the same assets that Disney wants, though it's a fluid situation and things are changing rapidly.

Fox is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, who are considering moving on from much of the company in order to focus more narrowly on sports and news and possibly more on global expansion.

While Disney and Comcast wouldn't be able to legally purchase the Fox broadcast network because they already own ABC and NBC, respectively, Sony and Verizon might be, assuming that's one of the assets Fox would part with.

Insiders say that the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network would not be sold.

Sony has been looking for ways to dramatically turn its film studio around, and Vinciquerra is very familiar with Fox's assets as he spent a decade as chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group.

In fact, several Sony executives are veterans of Fox.

Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, spent five years as chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, while Mike Hopkins, who holds the top spot at Sony Pictures Television, used to be president of distribution for Fox Networks Group, for example.

Later Friday, Charlie Gasparino reported on Fox Business Network that "I believe Fox has retained bankers, so this is the stage where these are serious offers that are being discussed."

Gasparino opined that Disney and Comcast were less likely to strike a deal for Fox and that Verizon or another large technology firm may have the upper hand.  

The multi-day trickle of news has caused shares of Fox to rise, and on Friday they were up another 6 percent. The stock is up 25 percent in two weeks.

Sony declined to comment. Fox declined to comment. 

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