Disney is reportedly planning to counter Comcast's latest all-cash bid, to prevent them from swooping in and making a deal with Fox. Despite major moves from Comcast in recent weeks, there's still a deal in place for Disney to acquire movie studio 20th Century Fox and other assets for $52.4 billion, a total comprised entirely of stock. If Disney can fend off Comcast and close the deal with Fox, it would be a colossal shift of intellectual property on the big screen, particularly for Marvel-based properties.
Fox falling under the Disney banner would mean that the Marvel Cinematic Universe could continue or reboot with iconic characters like X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four in the fold. Obviously, Comcast has different plans. The media conglomerate is expected to make a big push to acquire Fox, especially if the AT&T-Time Warner merger goes through. Now, Disney is expected to try and counteract that move.
As reported by CNBC - which is itself owned by Comcast - Disney is "lining up financing" in the event that Comcast's potential all-cash bid for Fox becomes a legitimate threat to blow up the Disney-Fox deal. Disney is reportedly "prepared to offer significant cash" as part of a reworked deal if Fox demands it; Comcast already offered more in its cash proposal. According to the report, Comcast plans to move forward with its bid if a federal judge rules in favor of AT&T in the telecom giant's attempt to close an $85 billion merger with Time Warner.
Disney is also considering whether to add cash on top of its offer or replace some stock with cash in order to hold off Comcast's possible bid and land an agreement with Fox. According to CNBC, Disney's offer has been viewed "favorably" by Fox, since an all-stock deal wouldn't involve tax complications like an all-cash deal would. This latest report comes on the heels of Comcast confirming its previously reported plans to make another bid for Fox.
Even if Disney ends up closing the deal with Fox, there's still a deal to be worked out involving British satellite broadcasting company Sky. Fox owns 39 percent of that company but is in something of a bidding war for Comcast for the remaining equity. If Comcast is able to grab majority control of Sky, it could force a reworked Disney-Fox deal. Either way, Disney certainly sounds prepared to modify its offer for Fox in whatever way it needs to in order to fend off the coming bid from Comcast.
If all goes according to plan for Disney and Fox, the deal could close by summer 2019, when Avengers 4 will be hitting theaters. The next era of Marvel movies could change significantly at that point. Comcast is doing as much as it can to stop that from happening, potentially creating as complicated and expensive a bidding war as has ever been seen in the entertainment industry before.