Comcast ends its bid to buy 21st Century Fox, congratulates Disney

Comcast will now focus its efforts on buying European operator Sky. (Comcast)

Comcast has officially ended its bidding war with the Walt Disney Company for 21st Century Fox’s cable and studio assets.

In a statement, Comcast said it will not try to top Disney’s $71.3 billion bid for Fox and will instead focus its efforts on buying Sky.

“I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement.

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Gracious concession speech aside, Comcast still presents a fairly significant thorn in the side of Disney, which likely considered Sky one of the jewels of its Fox acquisition.

RELATED: What happens now that Comcast has upped its bid for Sky

Last week, just hours after Fox’s new $32.5 billion (or £14 per share) bid for the 60% of Sky it doesn’t currently own, Comcast came back with a £14.75-per-share bid, a transaction with an implied value of $34 billion.

“Comcast has long admired Sky and believes it is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast. Today’s announcement further underscores Comcast’s belief and its commitment to owning Sky,” Comcast said in a statement.

Comcast now has a 60-day window before Sky shareholders can vote to approve the deal. According to Jefferies analyst John Janedis, within the first 46 days, Comcast and Fox can change the terms of their respective offers, and after that, five days of auctions with one bid per day will kick off. He said if Comcast wins, shareholders continue to tender their shares and if Fox wins, a shareholder vote occurs on day 60.