Disney may have already struck a deal, but Comcast isn't stopping its pursuit to buy Fox. The Hollywood system is going to receive a major shakeup in the next year or so. When reports surfaced that 21st Century Fox was looking to sell its movie and TV assets, namely 20th Century Fox, it quickly became clear that Disney was the front-runner for the acquisition. Reports even stated that Fox preferred to sell to Disney over other companies.
The Mouse House showed interest as plans they want to gain access to Fox's vast library, which would help bolster their upcoming streaming service as well as satiate fans' interest in having the X-Men and Fantastic Four join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Disney seemed like a sure bet, Comcast was still trying to outbid them. Ever since the deal closed, Comcast has looked for a way to acquire some of Fox's assets. They've reportedly considered upping their Fox bid altogether. While that has yet to happen, it's still in the cards if another major studio deal goes through.
CNBC reports that Comcast is preparing to make another bid for Fox, but with a few twists. First of all, they are meeting with bankers to potentially get enough backing where they can make an all-cash offer to Fox. Comcast is looking to acquire the majority stake of Sky (an international TV group which Fox owns 39% of), and they're also hoping to finance $60 billion to make a bid for Fox. Even if Comcast does receive the backing it needs, that still doesn't guarantee an offer will be made.
The biggest variable with Comcast's potential offer comes with AT&T's quest to acquire Time Warner. In that instance, AT&T agreed to pay $80 billion to buy Time Warner near the end of 2016. Just like any deal that Fox could agree too, the AT&T/Time Warner merger is being heavily examined by the U.S. Department of Justice. The concerns come with such a deal breaking antitrust laws. Comcast is keeping a close eye on this case and will formally submit another offer if it is approved, which would, then, alleviate any concerns Fox has with selling to Comcast.
If AT&T is successful in acquiring Time Warner (which includes Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, HBO, and more), then there shouldn't be a problem for Comcast to similarly get approved to buy Fox. The difficulty here comes with what Fox wants to do. They're already six months into the process of getting the Disney deal finalized. Going back to square one with a deal with Comcast would obviously set any sort of merger back another year or more. Fox has continued to develop projects in the meantime, just in case the Disney deal takes longer or if one falls through completely, but also because neither studio can jump the gun and move forward on projects together as if the deal had already been approved; that could lead to further regulatory issues and even fines.
Unfortunately, for Comcast, all of this trouble could be for naught. Comcast's initial offer to buy Fox was higher than Disney's, and Fox still didn't choose them. Regulatory concerns were part of the reason why, as well as Disney agreeing to pay a $2.5 billion "breakup" fee if the deal didn't happen. Comcast wouldn't offer such assurances initially and its unclear if that stance has changed. As long as Comcast insists on keeping this sale interesting, its too early to completely lock in the Disney-Fox deal. We'll keep you updated on Comcast's pursuit to buy Fox.