A good day for Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox shareholders got even better on Wednesday afternoon, with the company’s stock increasing about 1.25 percent in after-hours trading, following a $65 billion all-cash bid from Comcast.
Comcast’s offer represents a 19 percent premium on Disney’s $52.4 billion all-stock bid, as Comcast attempts to wrestle Fox away from the Mouse House. Fox initially accepted Disney’s offer back in December.
Fox climbed to $44.16 a share about 30 minutes after markets closed — after already spiking nearly 8 percent during normal trading hours.
Comcast fell slightly in after-hours trading, dipping about 0.5 percent to $32.15 a share. Disney’s stock hovered near its closing price of $106.31 a share.
Comcast had explored buying the Fox assets last December, floating an offer of roughly $60 billion, but Fox leaned toward Disney’s lower dollar-value bid amid concerns over possible antitrust issues. With U.S. District Judge Richard Leon shooting down the Trump Justice Department’s antitrust arguments over AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner, many expect an open season for the M&A sector — starting with the Fox assets.
At the same time, it’s easy to see why Disney CEO Bob Iger won’t let Fox go without a fight. Disney is preparing to roll out its own streaming service next year, and infusing it with a bevy of Fox content, including franchises like “Deadpool,” “X-Men,” and “The Simpsons” would help entice customers. ESPN, a Disney property, would also bolster its nascent streaming service by adding Fox’s string of regional sports networks.
The Murdoch-run Fox would, under the framework of its Disney deal, retain the Fox Broadcasting network and 28 owned-and-operated U.S. TV stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network. These will be formed into a “New Fox” company that will be spun off to its shareholders.