Comcast offers $65 billion for Fox, says government won’t stop merger

Roman Schwartz
June 15, 2018

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the US cable television giant is in the "advanced stages" of preparing an offer for most of 21st Century Fox's film and television assets - a bid that would likely hinge on the outcome of tomorrow's expected ruling in the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust case. The corporate combination promises to unleash even more megamergers in the fast-changing digital media space.

Why this matters: Although the ruling is a huge setback for the DoJ, its almost two-year legal battle to try and block the Time Warner deal is a sign it's determined to challenge massive mergers.

USA district judge Richard Leon sided with AT&T, approving the deal without conditions.

A look inside the courtroom on Tue, June 12, 2018.

Like many media cable and media companies, Comcast has two classes of stock that vest extraordinary voting rights on its founding family. But the Justice Department's antitrust vigor is now considerably diminished.

"We are disappointed with the Court's decision today", a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

Leon, the judge in this case, previously approved Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011.

The case was closely followed by an industry in the midst of consolidation.

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If someone wants to understand things another way, they can. I wanted to give a press conference that day but could not.

Fox's Rupert Murdoch is keeping a few properties, including Fox News, the Fox Sports national cable channels and the Fox broadcasting network. They've now won that bet.

Consumers are cutting their cable subscriptions and spending more time with online services like Netflix.

And the AT&T-Time Warner deal is not necessarily yet in the clear. "Together, AT&T and Time Warner concluded that both companies could stop "chasing taillights" and catch up with the competition".

Fox shares rose 7 percent in afternoon trade.

Comcast Corp offered $65 billion on Wednesday to lure Twenty-First Century Fox Inc away from a merger with Walt Disney Co, launching the first salvo with its 20 percent higher offer and setting up a bidding war between two of the largest USA media companies.

Comcast if successful would be able to expand beyond USA borders to new markets in Europe and India.

President Donald Trump, who has advocated for the blocking of the deal, has criticized CNN for its coverage of his election campaign and his administration. "E$3 xpect to see more experimentation with vertical integration by traditional content providers", Daniel Lyons, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said in an email.

Sadly, I'm not in a position to make any decisions around this though (one can dream) and it will be left to the Fox shareholders to decide if they want to make some quick gains or longer-term ones instead.

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