As Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney explained it, “The ball is now in Brian Roberts’ court.”
Although the cable giant hasn’t commented on 21st Century Fox’s acceptance Wednesday of The Walt Disney Company’s $71.3 billion counterbid, it is widely suspected that Comcast and its CEO are about to up the ante to acquire the media conglomerate.
“Comcast has indicated that they are very serious about this deal,” Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst with New Street Research LLC, told Bloomberg.
Comcast, which last week tried to swoop in on a $52 billion deal for Disney to buy select Fox movie and television assets with a $65 billion all-cash offer for Fox, could up its bid as high as $75 billion, analysts say.
“The market doesn’t think this is a good idea,” Chaplin said. “Comcast has lost $32 billion since they entered the bidding process.”
The debt implications are enormous for Comcast. If its’ $65 billion offer for Fox had been accepted, as well as its $31 billion related bid for U.K. satellite operator Sky, Comcast would have become one of the most indebted companies in the world, leveraging around $170 billion, according to ratings firm Moody’s.
And there’s pressure to make the bid enticing. Not only did Disney come back with more cash—about half of its latest offer is comprised of it—sources close to Disney say they are close to getting signoff on their deal with antitrust regulators.
Disney and Comcast are competing to acquire Fox’s movie and TV studios, domestic TV networks including FX, as well as international pay TV operations such as Star India and Sky.
Eager to expand globally, Comcast said the Fox deal would up its international revenue from 9% of its total pie to around 27%.
Fox, meanwhile, would hold on to domestic TV networks including Fox Broadcasting and Fox News, as well as Fox Sports 1 and 2.
Analysts have suggested that if Comcast falls short on Fox, it might choose to instead acquire Sony Pictures Entertainment, which also has studio and media networks operations.