Disney and Comcast ready to battle over 21st Century Fox

Global Business

Disney and Comcast ready to battle over 21st Century Fox

At the end of 2017, Disney announced it would acquire nearly all of 21st Century Fox’s assets for $53 billion. Pending regulatory approval, the deal seemed like a sure thing.

That was then and this is now.

Another giant media entity is making a play for Fox, which could trigger an all out clash of the titans.

CGTN’s May Lee has more on the potential battle.

Two of the biggest media companies in the world are getting ready to rumble in the proverbial boxing ring as a fight for 21st Century Fox is heating up.

Disney’s $53 billion all-stock offer is now being challenged by Comcast’s $60 billion all-cash offer. Both companies are trying to diversify as a way of boosting their influence in an industry that’s been disrupted by Netflix, Amazon and other tech companies.

But it’s also a bit personal. Disney CEO Bob Iger and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts dislike each other. The feud reportedly dates back to 2004 when Comcast attempted a hostile takeover of Disney.

“I call it the jilted lover syndrome,” Ross Gerber, President and CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth Management said. “Comcast just doesn’t want to see Disney and Fox get together and it’s almost like they’re willing to hurt themselves, and the stock market has shown them this, because the stock has gone down substantially. They’ve lost billions in shareholder value since they’ve announced this exploration.”

And that’s not all. Comcast would incur a huge debt to complete the all-cash deal, not to mention a giant tax hit for Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and a loss in power.

“They’re offering cash so there’s a big tax consequence for the Murdoch family versus a stock deal that Disney is offering which will allow Murdoch to be on the Disney board and still be a player in the industry. When you’re a billionaire power is more important to you than money so he still wants to have power. He doesn’t want to be some rich guy who sits in England and does nothing,” Gerber said.

But what about the consumer? Which merger is better? If you look at it just from the blockbuster perspective and what will be offered not only in theaters but online, here’s how they compare.

Fox owns the rights to Marvel characters including X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool. Fox also owns distribution rights to several Star Wars films including the original. So if Disney is the winner, then it would have all the rights to the entire Star Wars saga and possibly bring together its Marvel characters like the Avengers with the X-Men – the ultimate dream come true for die-hard Marvel fans.

Comcast has its own share of the Marvel universe with rights to The Incredible Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner.

But if you had to choose an online service between Disney and Comcast based solely on superhero blockbusters, then there’s a pretty big difference. And one more thing: Comcast has said it will only make a play for Fox if the U.S government approves AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which would set a precedent for mega media mergers. If the judge green lights the deal on June 12th, then get ready for a Disney-Comcast battle royale!