Court Approves AT&T’s Merger With Time Warner

AT&T-Time Warner Merger Gets The Green Light From Federal Court

The bid by Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, tops the $52.4 billion offer made by Disney for 21st Century Fox in December.

United States cable giant Comcast has launched a $65bn cash bid for 21st Century Fox's entertainment businesses, setting up a battle with Disney which has offered $52bn in stock. In light of Comcast's move, Fox is deciding whether to cancel or postpone the planned July 10 board meeting to vote on the Disney deal. The company faces quite an opponent in Disney, who still have a chance to match or top Comcast's offer.

It looks Comcast is determined to not let Disney have things their way with recent plans for their acquisition of Fox.

Comcast is trying to outbid Disney for assets including cable networks FX, FXX and National Geographic, 21 regional sports networks, Fox's 30% stake in Hulu and movie and TV production studios.

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It became possible when Rupert Murdoch, 87, and his son chose to slim down the media empire, leaving them with a "New Fox" that includes the Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and sports cable operations.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice suffered its first antitrust loss in court since 2004, paving the way for AT&T to merge with Time Warner and opening the floodgates for similar mergers in the near future.

The Verge reports that Comcast has offered to pay Fox shareholders $35.00 per share in cash, whereas Disney's bid is all tied up in stock. What is interesting to note is how Comcast is continuing to go down the all-cash route with their offers as opposed to Disney's mostly stock offering.

The cable conglomerate also said that it had already tendered its Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust filing with the Justice Department, and it expects the DOJ's antitrust review process to flow congruently with that which has been scheduled for Disney.

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The move follows a previous bid being rebuffed past year. "This is a golden offer that will put considerable pressure on (Disney CEO Bob) Iger and Disney to step up their game on another bid", GBH Insights analyst Dan Ives said.

In the letter, Roberts also said a Comcast-Fox acquisition is "as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction" and that Comcast would reimburse Fox for the $1.5 billion breakup fee with Disney. "AT&T Watch would be a very low end, very thin collection of products, and I think this one will be based on getting the Time Warner deal done", AT&T's CEO John Stephens said.

Disney itself has "surgically" structured a transaction that "might be doable", avoiding Fox Broadcasting and big Fox sports channels, USA antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said last week. Comcast was looking to make a bid for Fox a year ago, but that fell apart amid concerns that the government would block the deal, but the recent AT&T/Time Warner decision has clearly renewed their confidence.

Just because Comcast has made a higher offer doesn't mean that Fox will take it.

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