Disney & Comcast May End Up Splitting Fox’s Assets
Industry analysts are suggesting that 21st Century Fox's assets could be divided between Disney and Comcast. This approach would see Comcast gain Sky as an international distribution system, while Disney would take the rest.
Disney and Comcast are currently embroiled in a bidding war in order to purchase the bulk of 21st Century Fox's film and TV assets. On July 10, Fox shareholders are expected to vote on whether or not to accept Disney's $52.4 billion all-stock offer, or instead consider Comcast's unsolicited $65 billion all-cash bid. Comcast is piling on the pressure, filing a 43-page document to the SEC straight to Fox shareholders, urging them to reject Disney's offer.
In the latest news, industry analysts are suggesting there may be a way out of this bidding war. B. Riley analyst Barton Crockett suggested that he's hoping for a compromise, "that perhaps they could split the baby." As he explained to CNBC, "My sense is that Comcast is particularly interested in Sky, and Disney might have much more interest in much of the rest of it."
Curiously enough, this isn't a new idea. A month ago, well before Comcast finalized their bid, THR suggested Disney may have to concede the European broadcaster. There are certain attractions to this option: If Comcast were to get Sky, Disney would assume about $12 billion less in debt when it acquires the rest of 21st Century Fox. While the loss of Sky would be a blow for the House of Mouse, it would still strengthen its dominance in Hollywood, and add Fox's archives to the upcoming Disney streaming service. Comcast, for their part, would likely be satisfied with the arrangement since they're focused on growing more rapidly overseas, and thus are primarily interested in Sky. This would certainly seem like an attractive compromise for both parties, essentially allowing the Murdoch empire to be carved up between Disney and Comcast.
Whatever the outcome may be, the reality is that this deal will reshape the film and TV industry for generations to come. Ironically, everyday viewers are rather more interested in whether or not the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will return to Marvel, and thus be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As far as the average viewer's concerned, this idea would be a success. Disney would acquire the film rights to the two superhero franchises, and Marvel Studios would be free to add mutants into the MCU.
The crunch vote is expected on July 10, but it will be interesting to see if the whole game changes before the shareholders even get the chance to vote.
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