Disney agreed to pay $52.4 billion for the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox back in December. Those assets included Fox’s 22 regional sports networks. The deal essentially had the mouse paying about $28 per share of 21st Century Fox acquired.
Then along came Comcast, who saw the opportunity to acquire Fox after regulators decided to allow AT&T and Time Warner to merge. Comcast, who owns 8 RSNs of its own bid $65 billion for the same assets Disney wanted.
Now Disney has now upped its bid significantly. It is offering $71.3 billion to lose the deal with Fox.
While the Fox regional networks are in the mix, the driving forces behind this offer are controlling interest in Hulu, the streaming service that the three companies launched together back in 2007 and now each own 30% of, and the UK’s Sky Networks.
No deal is officially done. A Bloomberg article by Nick Turner, though, says it may just be a matter of formality at this point for Disney and 21st Century Fox.
Disney’s latest offer is a “very aggressive move” by Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger and may make it difficult for Comcast to respond, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney. Comcast’s current bid was already poised to load the company up with debt, and its shares have fallen 18 percent this year.
“Comcast’s balance sheet may preclude it from bidding much higher,” Sweeney said. “Further hampering Comcast’s ability to respond is its position that it does not want to use its stock in a deal at these low levels.”