After a monthslong knock-down, drag-out court battle with AT&T, the U.S. Justice Department looks like it could let Disney buy Fox without much of a protest.
According to Bloomberg, the DOJ could approve the revised $71 billion deal from Disney for Fox’s studio assets, cable networks and international operations in as little as two weeks.
A quick regulatory approval could make it difficult for Comcast to again counter Disney’s improved bid for Fox. But for Disney, it reportedly means selling off some of Fox’s assets in order to address some of the DOJ’s antitrust concerns.
Both Comcast and Disney have signaled that they’d be willing to part ways with Fox’s regional sports networks or other assets in the event regulators deem it necessary. Specifically, Comcast said it would match Disney’s “commitment to divest (i) any of 21CF’s RSNs and (ii) other 21CF assets representing up to $500 million of EBITDA (less up to $250 million of EBITDA attributable to divested RSNs).”
As it currently stands, both Comcast and Disney are pursuing 21st Century Fox’s film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000 Pictures; Fox‘s television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21; FX Networks; National Geographic Partners; Fox Sports Regional Networks; Fox Networks Group International; Star India; and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc and Tata Sky.
On Wednesday, Disney issued a revised bid—following Comcast’s rival $65 billion proposal—that raised the deal to $71.3 billion (or $38 per share) and offered Fox shareholders either cash or Disney stock as part of the deal. Disney expects to pay out approximately $35.7 billion in cash and issue approximately 343 million new shares to 21st Century Fox shareholders.
But Comcast could still have room to raise its own bid. On CNBC this morning, media analyst Michael Nathanson said Comcast will respond and that the offer for Fox could top out at around $44 per share.