The Disney and Fox merger is finally cleared to proceed after Comcast drops out of the bidding war to acquire the Murdoch family-owned company. Rumblings about the House of Mouse looking to buy Fox had been going on for quite some time before it was officially announced back in December. It wasn't a walk in the park for Bob Iger and his team considering they've faced several competitors, but nothing as persistent as the Philadelphia-based telecommunications conglomerate. The bidding war between the two companies only heated up when the AT&T/Time Warner buyout was approved by the Department of Justice. With the belief that they had a better chance of closing out the deal, Comcast came up with an all-cash bid, but Disney couldn't be discouraged, immediately countering with a higher offer that Fox ultimately favored.
Comcast not opting to up their bid to acquire Fox a few days ago was a good indication that they're no longer pursuing the deal. Instead, they are reportedly focusing on getting Sky. Now, things are finally official as the company bows out of the race by releasing a formal statement.
After months of back-and-forth with regard to which company would be willing to spend more funds to acquire the massive TV and movie assets of 21st Century Fox, the House of Mouse emerges as the winner with Comcast officially bowing out of the bidding war, as reported by Variety. “Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” said Comcast. Meanwhile, Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman-CEO, also released a statement indicating: “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”
Disney and Comcast may find themselves at odds again in the foreseeable future, however, this time with regard to Sky. Comcast has been entangled in a separate bidding war with Fox who owns 39 percent of the European satellite TV provider and is looking to fully take-over the remaining 61 percent they currently do not have. Sky remains to be a pivotal asset for Fox, and if Comcast succeeds in their pursuit before Disney takes over, it'll be curious how it'll affect that total price of Fox properties that the House of Mouse is buying. But, if the negotiations continue long after the Disney/Fox sale is finalized, Iger gains control over Sky, effectively getting them in a brand new bidding war with Comcast.
Despite that possibility, as of now, Disney's path to buying out Fox's movie and TV assets is clearer. Before Comcast actively attempted to foil the merger and close the deal for themselves, experts were eyeing a mid-2019 timeline when all legal proceedings for the the buyout would be finalized. Considering a few months delay to start the process, it's curious if it'll have any impact on the original timetable for the merger. The industry-shaking agreement will result in the House of Mouse gaining control of around 40 percent of the domestic box office and will include huge IPs like The Simpsons and Avatar, the rest of the Marvel catalog and even Fox’s A&E and Star TV networks among others.