Comcast abandons bid for Fox assets

NEW YORK: Comcast Corp said it had abandoned its bid for most of the assets of Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, leaving Walt Disney Co as the sole suitor in pursuit of the $40 billion-plus deal.
Sources said that Disney was in the lead to acquire the assets, which include Fox’s FX and National Geographic cable channels, its movie studio, the Star network in India and stake in European pay-TV provider Sky PLC.
The Murdoch family, which controls Fox, prefers a deal with Disney because it would rather be paid in Disney stock than Comcast stock, and expects a potential deal with Disney to be cleared by US antitrust regulators more easily, one source said.
Comcast, the biggest cable provider in the United States, said in a statement that its discussions with Fox had ended.
“When a set of assets like Fox’s becomes available, it is our responsibility to evaluate if there is a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders,” Comcast said.“That is what we tried to do and we are no longer engaged in the review of those assets. We never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer.”
The assets in question would have expanded Comcast’s international footprint through ownership of Sky and Star.
A source said in mid-November that Comcast had approached Fox about its interest, and talks were in early stages.
Disney’s negotiations with Fox are continuing, and a deal could be reached as early as this month, sources close to the situation said on Monday.
The persons asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.
Any potential deal will follow the US Department of Justice’s decision last month to sue to block AT&T Inc’s $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc. — Reuters