The Walt Disney Company announced Wednesday that it was sweetening its offer for key assets of 21st Century Fox, with a new bid of $38 per share in cash and stock worth $71.3 billion.
That exceeds the $65 billion all-cash offer Comcast made on June 13 for the same movie and TV assets — as well as Disney’s own $52.4 billion initial bid from last December.
In a statement, Fox said the new Disney deal “is superior to the proposal” made by Comcast just days after a federal judge approved AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner over the antitrust objections of the Trump Justice Department.
Regulatory approval had been seen as a key impediment to Comcast’s original approach of a deal with Fox when it first surfaced late last year.
According to Disney, the overall mix of its new offer would be a roughly even split of cash and stock, the latter of which would represent about a 19 percent stake in Disney on a pro forma basis. Fox shareholders would have the option to elect cash or stock in the newly combined company.
Disney and Comcast have been in heated competition for the same set of assets, which include the Fox film and TV studios, U.S. cable networks including FX and regional sports channels, international properties including Sky PLC and Star India as well as Fox’s one-third stake in the streaming service Hulu.
Rupert Murdoch’s Fox would retain the Fox broadcast network, cable stations such as Fox News and Fox Sports 1 and its local TV stations.
“We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry,” Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “We remain convinced that the combination of our iconic assets, brands and franchises with Disney’s will create one of the greatest, most innovative companies in the world.”
Fox stock leaped 5 percent in pre-market trading on Wednesday, while shares of Disney rose 1 percent; shares of Comcast remained flat.