The Murdoch family apparently has several suitors willing to buy parts of 21st Century Fox, and the Murdochs will reportedly decide whether to go ahead with a sale by year’s end.
The Wall Street Journal said Rupert Murdoch and his family are weighing the options, which include renewed talks with the Walt Disney Company and continued interest from Comcast. The report said that the discussions are gaining momentum.
Verizon and Sony are also reportedly interested in the Fox assets for sale.
For sale would be Fox’s film and television studios, international assets like Sky and Star, the company's stake in Hulu and Fox’s cable networks including FX and National Geographic. (Comcast and Disney are both co-owners of Hulu as well). According to CNBC, the deal would not include Fox’s broadcast network, Fox’s sports programming or the Fox News or Business channels.
According to the report, Fox’s regional sports networks could also be up for sale.
Discussions of any potential sale of 21st Century Fox assets are occurring against the backdrop of AT&T’s proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner, which the U.S. Justice Department has sued to block.
Last week in a filing with the SEC, AT&T announced that it was moving the previous merger deadline of Oct. 22, 2017, out to April 22, 2018, giving it another 5 months to close a merger that has become the target of a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit. The extension comes as AT&T and the DOJ argue over a court date, with AT&T pushing for February 2018 and the DOJ pushing for May 2018.
AT&T has pledged to push back against the DOJ’s challenge.
“We do not intend to settle this matter out of simple expediency because the rule of law is at issue here. Consistence in the application of the law is critical in a free market economy and it’s equally important for preserving confidence in our government, confidence that they will fairly adjudicate the matters brought before them. When the government suddenly, and without any notice or due process, discards decades of legal precedent, businesses large and small are left with no guideposts. Every business combination or significant investment becomes subject to the whim of a regulator. As we’re seeing here, that tends to be a roll of the dice,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.
The DOJ has also promised to fight hard to block the merger.
“This merger would greatly harm American consumers. It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy,” said Delrahim in a statement. “AT&T/DirecTV’s combination with Time Warner is unlawful, and absent an adequate remedy that would fully prevent the harms this merger would cause, the only appropriate action for the Department of Justice is to seek an injunction from a federal judge blocking the entire transaction.”