After making a new, higher offer to acquire Fox's assets earlier today, Comcast is now taking their case to the company's shareholders directly. It's been widely known for months that prior to the announcement of Disney reaching a deal to buy most of Fox back in December, Comcast - cable giant and owner of NBC Universal - had made its own attempts to negotiate a purchase of the same nature. Yet, Disney ended up emerging victorious, despite Comcast making a higher value bid at the time. Or so most thought.
The Disney/Fox acquisition still has to clear several hurdles before officially becoming reality, including surviving a vote among Fox's shareholders currently set to take place on July 10. After that, Disney and Fox would still have to hope that the U.S. government ultimately approves of the sale plan, although that now looks a lot more likely after yesterday's government approval of the gigantic merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Now that Comcast has jumped back into the mix with its own huge $65 billion all-cash bid, there is some doubt that the July 10 vote will even take place as scheduled.
In a follow-up to today's earlier report that Comcast's counter offer was now on the table, Deadline reports that Comcast isn't just sitting back and hoping for its favored outcome. The company addressed a 43-page document filed today with the SEC straight to Fox shareholders, urging them to reject Disney's $52.4 billion all-stock offer, and make it clear that accepting Comcast's proposal is the smarter move for Fox to make.
If the July 10 vote still happens - something Fox itself said earlier today that they aren't totally sure about - and shareholders vote against selling to Disney, that would indeed send a message that Comcast is their preferred option. A large portion of Fox's assets - including its movie and TV studios, cable entertainment networks, and stake in Hulu - is clearly getting sold to somebody when things are all said and done, and it's hard to imagine a third player coming along at this stage capable of matching the buying power of titans like Comcast and Disney.
For fans, the biggest point of interest in this entire deal remains the prospect of Fox's Marvel character rights transferring to Disney, enabling a legion of X-Men and Fantastic Four-related characters to join the Marvel Studios line-up. The idea of that happening quite understandably excites fans, who dream of seeing Spider-Man interact with Deadpool or Iron Man chat with Professor X on the big screen.
Whenever the prospect of Comcast snatching Fox out from under Disney is broached online, it never fails that somebody comes along to remind fans of the popular notion that Fox's rights to Marvel properties aren't transferable. This would mean that no matter who buys Fox, the screen rights to Reed Richards, Wolverine, etc. will revert to Marvel. However, this belief - despite its widespread circulation - isn't actually backed up by facts. For now, nobody but Marvel and Fox know the details of their agreement, and the chances of those details being made public are slim. If Comcast wins this battle, Marvel fans may really have to face a world where the X-Men can never join the MCU, and that would be a sad ending indeed.
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